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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 

Sarrett Biblical Insti**** 

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The present volume closes the series originally proposed on 
the History of Massachusetts — bringing that history down to 
a period within the memory of thousands now living. To 
many, without doubt, the incidents narrated in the following 
pages will prove more interesting, and possibly more attractive, 
than those which have been previously described ; while to 
others, the more distant the scene, or the more remote the 
period, the greater the charm the historian's page has for their 
minds. That the difficulties attending the elucidation of our 
annals for the forty years which followed the opening of the 
revolution are much more perplexing than those which the forty 
years preceding the revolution present, will be evident to every 
one who has attempted the task of writing concerning a period 
about which conflicting and even opposite opinions may honestly 
prevail, which are too intimately connected with early recollec- 
tions to be disturbed without awakening the slumbering mem- 
ory, and exciting afresh feelings and passions which have long 
been dormant. If, in discharging his delicate duty, the author 
shall be found to have dealt impartially with the characters who 
figure in his pages, he will certainly have reached the height of 
his wishes. Yet, considering how differently his readers are 
constituted, and that, in every community, and in relation to 



every work, all cannot be expected to harmonize in their views, 
it would not be surprising if, in some cases, and to a certain 
extent, he should be found to have reflected his own prejudices 
too strongly to escape the imputation of having been biased in his 
judgment, or, at least, of having overlooked those more remote 
causes which influence the actions of men, and which should 
never be lost sight of in forming a just estimate of their motives 
and deeds. It will probably be conceded, however, that it is 
better to err on the side of charity than on that of intolerance 
or general censoriousness. It is much easier, indeed, to blame 
than to commend ; and it is a more common fault to arraign 
and condemn the past than to speak of it calmly, and to draw 
from it the lessons of prudence it should teach. It as hoped, 
therefore, that those who may read the following pages will not 
too hastily censure the author, if they cannot in every instance 
agree with him in his conclusions, and will make due allowance 
for the necessary infirmities of a fallible judgment. That the 
health of the author has been spared to complete his work is, 
to him, a source of unfeigned thankfulness ; and if the public 
shall find that work such as is needed, the consciousness that 
the labor it has cost has not been in vain will prove of itself a 
sufficient reward. 




Preparations for raising an Army — Officers of the Army — Condition of 
the Inhabitants of Boston — Preparations for leaving the Town — Obstructions 
to the Kemoval of the Patriots — Enlistments for the Army — Military Stores 
— Rank and Services of the Officers — Movements of the Tories — Resump- 
tion of Government — Position of the Clergy — Prospects of the Army — For- 
tifications commenced — Skirmishes with the Enemy — Meeting of the Second 
Congress — Propositions of John Adams — "Washington chosen Commander- 
in-Chief — Proclamation of Gage — Counter Proclamation proposed — Position 
of the American Army — Topography of Charlestown — Orders to intrench on 
Bunker Hill — The Fortifications commenced — Amazement of the British — 
Preparations for an Attack — Movements of General Ward — The British 
embark for Charlestown — More Troops sent over — Position of the Ameri- 
cans — Number and Officers of the British Army — Commencement of the 
Battle — Directions of the American Officers — Result of tne first Charge — 
Burning of Charlestown — The third Attack — Retreat of Prescott — Triumph 
of the British— Close of the Battle, pp. 1-39. 



American Intrenchments — Additional Forces raised — Arrival of "Washing- 
ton — Forces of the British — Scenery around Boston — Incidents of the Siege 



in July — Correspondence between Lee and Burgoyne — Incidents of the Siege 

— Proceedings of the Americans — Occupation of Ploughed Hill — Corre- 
spondence between Washington and Gage — Occurrences in September — 
Preparations for quartering the Army — Arrival of Howe — Proclamations of 
Howe — Position ,of the British Ships — Position of the American Forces — 
A Naval Armament fitted out — Conference in Boston — Proceedings of the 
Continental Congress — Address to the King — State of Public Feeling in 
England — Rejection of the Petition of the Colonies — Convocation of Parlia- 
ment — Discussions in Parliament — Examination of Penn — Lord North's 
Prohibitory Bill — Movements in America — Embarrassments of Washington 

— Prosecution of the Siege — Operations in December — Condition of the 
Army at the Close of the Year — Recruits for the Army — Washington's 
Reflections — Position of the British — A Council of War called — A second 
Council convened — Improvement in the Condition of the Americans — The 
approaching Conflict — Intrenchments at Dorchester — Movements of the 
British — Feeling in Boston — Evacuation of the Town — Departure of the 
British Fleet — Condition of the Town. pp. 40-86. 



State of public Feeling in America — Thomas Paine's " Common Sense " — 
Views of Congress — Position of Massachusetts — State of Feeling at the 
South — Position of John Adams — Course of Massachusetts — Vote of the 
Towns in Favor of Independence — Effects of the Action of Parliament — The 
Duke of Grafton's Conciliatory Plan — Discussion of the Question of Inde- 
pendence — Action of Virginia — Motion submitted by R. H. Lee — Debates 
on the Question of Independence — Arguments against the Declaration — 
Arguments in Favor of the Declaration — Committee appointed to draught a 
Declaration — Mr. Jefferson selected to make this Draught — Discussion re- 
sumed — Letter of John Adams — Unanimity with Difficulty secured — The 
Declaration of Lidependence considered — Discussion upon the same — Char- 
acter of the Instrument > — Rejoicings on its Passage — Propriety of this 
Step. pp. 87-122. 




Fortifications in Boston Harbor — General Lincoln enters the Service — 
Naval Armament of Massachusetts — The British Fleet expelled — Exploits 
of the Privateers — Tardiness in raising Troops — Local Jealousies — More 
Troops called for — Enlistments for the Army — Sufferings of the People — 
Treatment of the Tories — A new Army raised — Board of War appointed — 
Enlistments in Massachusetts — Organization of the Regiments — Prepara- 
tions for Defence — Successes of the Navy — Perilous Position of Affairs — 
Capture of Burgoyne — Secret Expedition to Rhode Island — Expenses of 
the War — New Quotas called for — Appeals to the People — Expedition to 
Rhode Island — Disaster to the French Fleet — La Fayette visits Boston — 
Commissioners sent to America from England — Conduct of the Commis- 
sioners — The Ministry condemned — Opening of the new Year — State of 
Affairs — Financial Embarrassments — Expedition to the Eastward — Fresh 
Levies raised — The National Debt — Provision for its Payment — Sufferings 
of the War — Preliminaries of Peace — A Treaty of Peace concluded — < 
Close of the War. pp. 123-171. 



A Constitutional Convention proposed — Propriety of this Step — Re- 
jection of the First Constitution — A Convention called — A Constitution 
draughted — Objections to this Instrument — Discussion on the Bill of 
Rights — Election of State Officers — Views of the Statesmen of Massa- 
chusetts — Incorporation of the Academy of Arts and Sciences — The 
Dark Day — Revision of the Laws — Massachusetts Bank incorporated — 
Massachusetts Mint — Character of Governor Hancock — The Question of 
Slavery discussed — Abolition of Slavery in Massachusetts — Census of the 
State — Character of Governor Bowdoin — Convention at Portland — Project 
of a separate Government — Reelection of Governor Bowdoin — Progress of 
Manufactures — Settlement of the Massachusetts and New York Claim — r 
Manners and Customs, pp. 172-217. 




Gathering at Northampton — Gathering at Hatfield — Convention at Deer- 
field — State of Affairs at the Close of the War — Causes of Complaint — • 
Conduct of the Seditious — Convention at Worcester — Convention at Hat- 
field — Proceedings in Worcester County — Proceedings in Middlesex — Dis- 
turbances at Taunton — Proceedings in Berkshire County — Position of the 
Citizens of Boston — Disturbances at Springfield — Cnaracter of Day — Con- 
duct of the Insurgents — Proceedings of the General Court — Renewed Dis- 
turbances — Memorial of the Worcester Convention — Warrants for the Arrest 
of the Insurgents — Disturbances at Worcester — Proceedings in Hampshire 
County — Troops raised to suppress the Rebellion — The Arsenal at Spring- 
field attacked — Situation of Shepard — Pursuit of the Insurgents — Session 
of the General Court — Pursuit of Shays — Vigilance of the Government — 
Disqualifying Resolves — Views of General Lincoln — Subsidence of the Dis- 
turbances — Reformatory Measures proposed — Approval of Governor Bow- 
doin's Policy — Expected Change of Measures — Suppression of the Rebellion 
— Wisdom of the Government Measures, pp. 218-260. 



Defects of the Confederation — Preparatory Steps to a Convention — Con- 
gress consents to call a Convention — Wisdom of this Measure — Consequences 
of the Failure of the Convention — The Convention assembles in Philadelphia 
— Rules of the Convention — Division of Parties — Difficulty of framing a 
perfect system — Points of Debate — The Question of Slavery discussed — 
Discussion on the Slave Trade — Rendition of Fugitives — Difficulties of the 
Slave Question — Results of the Convention — The Massachusetts Convention 
meets — Debate on Biennial Elections — Choice of Representatives — Property 
Qualification — The "Three Fifths Clause" debated — Construction of the 
Senate — Powers of Congress — Discussion on the Slave Trade — General 
Heath's Views — Close of the Debate — Importance of the Question — Propo- 
sals to secure Unanimity — Discussion on these Proposals — The Question 
taken — Result of the Vote — Nature of the Amendments proposed — Close 
of the Convention — Action of Congress — Washington looked to for Presi- 


dent — Acceptance of the Trust urged upon him — His Acquiescence and 
Choice — Ceremonies of Inauguration — Questions connected with the Con- 
stitution, pp. 261-308. 



Washington's Visit to Boston — Address of the Governor and Council — 
Reply of Washington — Division of Parties — Benefits of the Adoption of the 
Constitution — Resumption of the State Debts — Internal Improvements — 
Revision of the Laws — Educational Laws — Establishment of Sunday Schools 

— Samuel Adams chosen Governor — His Character — French Revolution — 
Conduct of Genet — Charges against Washington — Insolence of Genet — 
Difficulties with England — Meeting in Boston — Reply of Washington — ■• 
Increase Sumner chosen Governor — John Adams chosen President — Views 
of Mr. Adams — Difficulties with France — Commissioners appointed — Recep- 
tion of the Commissioners — Return of Pinkney and Marshall — Measures of 
the Government — Reelection of Mr. Sumner — Caleb Strong chosen Governor 

— Fourth Presidential Canvass — Choice of Jefferson — Fifth Presidential Elec- 
tion — Character of Jefferson — The Embargo laid — Effects of the Embargo 
upon Massachusetts — Policy of this Measure — Policy of the Rejection of 
the offered Treaty — Pressure of the Embargo — Resistance of an Attempt 
for its Repeal — Sixth Presidential Election — Mr. Lloyd chosen Senator in 
the Place of Mr. Adams — Charge of an Attempt to dissolve the Union — 
Mission of Henry — Overtures of Erskine — Mr. Gerry chosen Governor of 
Massachusetts, pp. 309-364. 



Removals from Office — Governor Gerry's political Sympathies — Libels 
charged upon the Federal Press — Reelection of Caleb Strong — Lloyd's 
Speech in Congress — War Movements of the Administration — Position of 
the British Ministry — War declared — Policy of this Step — State of Feeling 
in Boston — Charges against the People — Reception of the News of the War 
in Boston — Appeal of the Senate of Massachusetts — Address of the House 
— Address of the Federal Members of Congress — State of Feeling at the 


South — Requisitions upon Massachusetts — Course of Governor Strong — 
Correspondence with General Dearborn — The Governor's Defence — Recep- 
tion of the War News in England — Prosecution of the War in the United 
States — Remonstrance of New York — Proposals for an Armistice — The War 
proceeds on the Policy of Impressment — Measures adopted in Massachusetts 

— Application to Congress for Aid — Reelection of Governor Strong — Cap- 
ture of the Chesapeake — British Blockade of the Coast — Interdiction of the 
Coasting Trade — Reply of the House to the Governor's Speech — The Parties 
who were benefited by the War — Arrangements for the Defence of the Coast 

— Proposals for a Negotiation at London — Ghent selected as the Place of 
Meeting — Action of Massachusetts — Report of the Legislative Committee — 
Resolutions of the General Court — A Convention proposed — Hartford Con- 
vention called — Character of the Members — Proceedings of the Convention 

— Amendments proposed — Action of Congress — Massachusetts approves 
the Action of the Convention — Peace concluded — Proceedings in Boston 

— Manufacturing Companies incorporated — Revision of the Constitution — 
Amendments proposed — Conclusion, pp. 365-426. 




The battle of Lexington was the opening scene of the war chap 
of the revolution. As the action, in its consequences, was of ^_J^ 
the greatest importance, an official account was draughted, to 1775. 
be sent to England, and, by express, to South Carolina. 1 All 
America was exasperated at the conduct of Gage. " To arms ! 
to arms ! " was the general cry. " Divide and conquer/ 7 was 
the maxim of the enemy. " Unite and be invincible," was the 
maxim of the Americans. " Liberty or death," " Unite or die" 
were the mottoes which blazoned the chronicles of the day, 
and embellished the standards of nearly every company. The 
enthusiasm of the people was inflamed to the highest pitch ; 
the militia from all parts rushed to arms, and preparations for 
future hostilities were prosecuted with vigor. 2 

1 The despatches to England, in- Mems. i. 231, 248, 276-285; Gor- 
cluding a letter to Dr. Franklin and don's Am. Rev. i. 331. 
an address to the people of Great 2 Sparks's Franklin, viii. 153 ; Sted- 
Britain, were sent in a vessel belong- man's Am. War, i. 120 ; Bissett's 
ing to Richard Derby, Esq., of Sa- Hist. Eng. i. 426 ; Thacher's Jour, 
lem; and the despatches to South 21; Webster's Bunker Hill Monu- 
Carolina were forwarded from post to ment Address, 20. An alarm, attend- 
post, and duly endorsed, until they ed with somewhat ludicrous results, 
reached their destination. Jour. Pro v. occurred in Essex county on the 21st 
Cong. 148, 153-156, 159, 523; Force's of April. Coffin's Newbury, 245-247. 
Am. Archives, ii. 363-369 ; Drayton's 

VOL. III. 1 



The Provincial Congress had adjourned until May ; but, by 
a special vote of the committee of safety, the executive for 
1775. the time being, the members reassembled in the town of Con- 
Apr' 22! cord, and, adjourning from thence to Watertown, entered at 
once upon those measures which, at that crisis, were " indis- 
Apr.20. pensable for the salvation of the country." Already had a 
circular been addressed to the towns, urging upon the people 
the necessity of raising troops to " defend their wives and 
children from the butchering hands of an inhuman soldiery," 
and entreating them to " hasten and encourage by all possible 
means the enlistment of men to form an army." " Our 
all," it was said, " is at stake. Death and devastation are the 
consequences of delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. 
An hour lost may deluge the country in blood, and entail per- 
petual slavery upon the few of our posterity who may survive 
the carnage." l 
Apr. 23. The local Congress, feeling the importance of this subject, 
zealously entered upon its consideration, and voted, at the 
opening of its session, " that an army of thirty thousand men 
be immediately raised, and that thirteen thousand six hundred 
be raised by this province." 2 Provision was likewise made 
for levying money to defray expenses ; the committee of safety 
was ordered to " bring in a plan for the establishment of the 
officers and soldiers ; " and committees were sent to the New 
Hampshire Congress at Exeter, and to Connecticut and Rhode 
Island, to inform them of these resolutions, and request their 


Up to this date, the officers appointed by the former Con- 
gress had directed the movements of the provincial troops ; 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 147 and note, Am. Rev. i. 192 ; Thacher's Jour. 20 ; 
518; Gordon's Am. llev. i. 336; Bradford, i. 375. 

Thacher's Jour. 20; Frothingham's 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 149; Force's 

Siege, 191 ; Shattuck's Concord, 118. Am. Archives, ii. 377, 378 ; Gordon's 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 148, and comp. Am. Rev. i. 318; Stedman's Am. 
ibid. 520; Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 76; War, i. 121 j Sparks's Washington, 
Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 316 ; Ramsay's iii. 487. 


and General Heath issued his orders until the arrival of chap. 
Ward, who assumed the command. 1 The same day, a coun- ^J^ 
oil of war was held ; 2 for the protection of the neighbor- 1775. 
hood, guards were stationed on the Charlestown road and at 
other points; and on the following day, at the instance of Apr. 21 
Ward, Colonels Prescott, Learned, and Warren were ordered 
to march their regiments to Roxbury, to join General Thom- 
as. 3 The exact number of men in the field it is impossible to 
determine ; 4 but reinforcements daily arrived, and the army 
was joined by the resolute Putnam, a native of Massachusetts, 
but a resident of Connecticut, 5 and by the chivalrous Stark, 
and Paul Dudley Sargeant, of New Hampshire, whose services 
at this juncture were exceedingly valuable. 6 Nor should the 
gallantry of Warren, the young physician, be forgotten, who 
" did wonders in preserving order among the troops." 7 He 
was one of the most active of the Boston patriots, beloved for 
his virtues and renowned for his 'courage ; and such was the 
confidence inspired by his wisdom that he was looked up to 
by all with unbounded respect. 

It could not, of course, be expected, at this period, that the 
strictest discipline should have prevailed in the army. Com- 
ing from different colonies, and thrown together by accident, 
as it were, concert of action could only be gradually secured. 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 315, 316 ; Heath, who remained at Roxbury un- 
Heath's Mems. 16, 17 ; Ward's Ward til the arrival of Washington. 
Family, 47 ; Sparks's Washington, iii. 4 Thacher, Jour., says the army 
488. General Ward had command consisted of 40,000 ; and Stiles, in his 
at Cambridge, and General Thomas Diary, and Stedman, Am. War, i. 120, 
at Roxbury. say 20,000. But both these estimates 

2 At which were present Generals seem to be too high. Comp. Froth- 
Ward, Heath, and Whitcomb; Colo- ingham's Siege, 91, note. 

nels Bridge, Foye, J. Prescott, W. 5 He was born in Salem, Mass., 

Prescott, Billiard, and Barrett; and Jan. 7, 1718. Humphreys's Life of 

Lieutenant Colonels Spaulding, Nix- Putnam, 15, ed. 1818. 

on, Whitney, Mansfield, and Whee- 6 Bradford, i. 380 ; Frothingham's 

lock. Frothingham's Siege, 91, 92. Siege, 92. 

3 Ward's Orderly Book ; Heath's 7 Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 205 ; Froth- 
Mems. 17 ; Frothingham's Siege, 92. ingham's Siege, 92. See also Swett's 
The regiments named in the text sketch, in Life of Putnam, 190, ed. 
were under the command of General 1818. 


CHAP. Yet the difficulties which were encountered did not preclude 
^^ harmony ; and in a very short time, this " unshaken embryo 
1775. of a military corps, composed of militia, minute men, and vol- 
unteers, with a burlesque appearance of multiformity in arms, 
accoutrements, clothing, and conduct," grew into " a regular 
army," which " vindicated the rights of human nature, and 
established the independence " of a glorious republic. 1 

The ravages committed by the British troops at Lexington 
and Concord alarmed the people of Boston and its vicinity, 
and led them to fear for the safety of their own homes. 
Hence, in the metropolis, the " hotbed of disaffection," and in 
Charlestown and Cambridge, numbers prepared to remove to 
the country. The American officers, with a generous spirit, 
afforded them all the protection in their power ; and the regi- 
ments posted at Waltham, Watertown, Cambridge, Roxbury, 
and Medford were serviceable for this purpose. 2 The Con- 
gress likewise labored for* the organization of the army, 
appointed engineers, authorized the purchase of stores and 
supplies, and provided for the payment of officers and men. 3 
Before much was effected, however, a large number of minute 
men left for their homes, so that some of the avenues into the 
country were but slightly guarded. On the Xeck, in particu- 
lar, between Boston and Roxbury, but six or seven hundred 
men were posted, under Colonel Robinson ; and for nine days 
together they were obliged to maintain their position without 
relief. 4 

The inhabitants of Boston, hemmed in by the British troops, 
found their situation peculiarly distressing. By the orders 
of the governor, they had been cut off from intercourse with 
their friends in the country ; and, conscious of the dangers to 

1 Bradford, i. 380 ; Humphrevs's 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 152, 153, 157, 
Life of Putnam, 92, 93. 165 ; Bradford, i. 376. 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 92. The 4 Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 337; Heath's 
regiments at Waltham and Water- Memoirs, 18; Frothingham's Siege, 
town were ordered to Cambridge on 93, and note. 

the 26th of April. 


which they were exposed, they could not but view their con- chap. 
dition with alarm. Fortunately for them, Gage was equally ^^ 
alarmed ; and, fearing that the provincial troops might be- 1775. 
siege the town, and the inhabitants within second them, an 
interview was had with the selectmen, and an arrangement 
was made, which was approved by the people and by the com- Apr. 22. 
mittee of safety, granting to the women and children a safe 
conduct without the garrison, and to the men also upon con- 
dition of delivering up their arms, and pledging themselves to 
maintain neutrality for a season. 1 

Under these stipulations, which were sanctioned by both 
parties, all who could leave prepared to do so ; and for a 
short time the treaty was faithfully observed. Nearly two 
thousand stands of arms were delivered up, with a large Apr. 27. 
number of other weapons ; 2 permission was given to the in- 
habitants to remove, with their effects, by land or water ; and 
applications for passes were to be made to General Robert- 
son. 3 Nearly at the same time, a letter was written to Dr. 
Warren, " that those persons in the country who inclined to 
remove into Boston with their effects might have liberty to 
do so without molestation ; " and the Provincial Congress, 
not to be behind his excellency in courtesy, voted to comply Apr. 30. 
with his request ; officers were appointed to grant permits ; 4 
and a large number of " tories," as they were termed by the 
patriots, availed themselves of this opportunity to seek the 
shelter of the British guns. 5 Already had two hundred of the 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 167, 173, 519, ered; and he further contended that 
521 ; Force's Am. Archives, ii. 374- the word ' effects ' was never meant to 
377; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 316; include merchandise." 

Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 189, 190; 3 Frothingham's Siege, 95. On the 

Frothingham's Siege, 93, 94, and note, difficulties encountered by the people 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 526 ; Ramsay's in effecting a removal, see Letter of 
Am. Rev. i. 189 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. T. Brown, April 28, 1775, in Trumbull 
i. 336 ; Frothingham's Siege, 95. MSS. iv. 75. 

Lord Mahon, Hist. Eng. vi. 39, says, 4 Jour. Prov. Cong. 173, 529 ; Gor- 

" Neither party appears to have ml- don's Am. Rev. i. 316, 317. 

filled their part in this agreement. 5 Jour. Prov. Cong. 184 j Thach 

General Gage complained that the er's Joui 22. 

arms had not been faithfully deliv- 


CHAP, tories of Boston — merchants, traders, and others — sent in 
, - JJ^ fc , their names to General Gage, to arm in his service as volun- 
1775. teers ; and they were enrolled under General Ruggles, and 
placed on duty. 1 

In pursuance of the arrangements for that purpose, hun- 
dreds of the inhabitants of Boston applied for passes, and left 
the town. But the departure of so many alarmed the tories, 
who exclaimed against the " pernicious tendency of such an 
indulgence," and threatened to withdraw in case it was con- 
tinued. 2 The governor, for a time, paid no attention to these 
threats ; but becoming apprehensive that difficulties might 
arise, on various pretexts the agreement was violated, and 
obstacles were thrown in the way of a removal. At first, no 
merchandise was allowed to be carried away ; next, provis- 
ions, and even medicines, were prohibited ; and, finally, guards 
were appointed to examine " all trunks, boxes, beds, and every 
thing else to be carried out." 3 Still many persisted in leaving, 
notwithstanding these restrictions ; upon which passes were 
refused, and numbers who had received them were obliged to 
leave their property behind. Nor was this the worst fea- 
ture of the governor's policy ; for the passports, in some cases, 
were purposely so framed that families were divided — wives 
from their husbands, children from their parents, and the 
aged and infirm from their relations and friends. The gen- 
eral was especially reluctant to allow women and children to 
leave ; for, while they remained, it was thought they contrib- 
uted to the safety of his troops. The poor and the helpless, 
whose presence would have been a burden, and those who 
were afflicted with infectious diseases, were suffered to depart, 
and were even turned out upon the charity of their neighbors. 4 

1 Letter from Boston of April 23, 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 192, 195. 212, 
1775, in Frothingham's Siege, 97, 245 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 342 ; 
note. Frothingham's Siege, 96. 

2 Extracts from an English paper of 4 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 137; Jour. 
September 14, 1775, in Frothingham's Prov. Cong. 551 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. 
Siege, 95, 97, note. i. 191 j Franklin's Works, viii. 156; 


The inhabitants of Charlestown had already left that town • chap. 
and so deserted had it become, that, early in June, a petition ^^ 
was presented to the Provincial Congress for aid in removing 1775. 
those who remained, who were too poor to provide for them- 
selves. 1 A few of the citizens occasionally returned, to " look 
after their effects, or to plant their gardens, or to mow their 
grass ; " but at the date of the battle of Bunker Hill, out of 
a population of between two and three thousand, but one or 
two hundred remained. 2 

The enlistment and organization of an army was a matter 
of primary importance ; and, as it was esteemed " the best 
and only measure left to bring the present disputes to a happ} 
issue," it was pushed forward with all possible despatch. 3 The 
regiments of Massachusetts, at least twenty-four in number, 4 
were to consist of ten companies each, of fifty-nine men, in- 
cluding officers ; and by the middle of July more than eleven 
thousand men were raised. 5 Rhode Island, as her quota, 
voted to raise fifteen hundred men for the service ; 6 Con- Apr. 25. 
necticut, equally spirited, voted to raise six thousand men, Apr. 26. 
to be organized into six regiments under General Joseph 
Spencer ; 7 and New Hampshire, as her quota, voted to raise May 20. 

Impartial Hist, of the War, 201; iii. 488; Frothingham's Siege, 101. 
Thacher's Jour. 35 ; Bradford, i. 376 ; 6 Jour. Prov. Cong. 156, 169 ; 

Frothingham's Siege, 95, 96. Force's Am. Archives, ii. 390 ; Swett, 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 362, 430, 431, in Life of Putnam, 183; Frothing- 
441, 443, 474, et al. ham's Siege, 100. The forces from 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 97. Rhode Island were organized into 

3 On the 24th of April, a committee three regiments, of eight companies 
of one from each county was appoint- each, and placed under the command 
ed to attend the committee of safety, of Nathaniel Greene. 

and furnish the names of the most 7 Force's Am. Archives, ii. 411 ; 

suitable persons for officers in the Hinman's War of the Rev. 547 ; 

army now raising. Jour. Prov. Cong. Swett, in Life of Putnam, 185, 186; 

150. Frothingham's Siege, 100. On the 

4 Heath's Memoir, 17. Sparks, previous difficulties with Connecticut, 
Writings of Washington, iii. 488, says and their communication with General 

26. Hildreth, Hist. U. S. iii. 69, says Gage, see Jour. Prov. Cong. 179-183, 

27. Bradford, i. 382, says there were 194, 196. General Spencer, with one 
22 regiments complete, and 3 incom- of the regiments under his command, 
plete, and in a note gives a list of the arrived at the camp early in May, and 
same and of the officers. was posted at Roxbury ; and a second 

5 Jour. Prov. Cong. 152, 253, 522 ; regiment, under Putnam, was sta- 
Sparks's Writings of Washington, tioned at Cambridge. 


chap, two thousand men. 1 The military stores which had been col- 

^^_ lected were exceedingly limited, and the supply of cannon was 

1775. especially meagre. At an early date, the Congress expressed 

Apr. 29. . ox 

their " deep concern on account of the state and situation of 
the cannon ; " and when an inventory of the same was taken, 
it was found that there were " in Cambridge six three pound- 
ers complete, with ammunition, and one six pounder ; and in 
Watertown sixteen pieces of artillery, of different sizes," 
which, however, were not in a fit state for immediate use. 2 
May 22. To provide for this deficiency, General Ward recommended 
that there should be procured " thirty twenty-four pounders, 
and if that number of cannon cannot be obtained, that the 
weight of metal should be made up with eighteen pounders, 
double fortified ; ten twelve pounders, and eighteen nine pound- 
ers, with twenty-one thousand six hundred pounds of powder, 
and eighty balls for each gun." 3 

Nearly every thing, it will be perceived, was at this date in 
an unsettled state. Not only had no efficient preparations 
been made for the equipment and supply of the troops, but the 
organization of the army was likewise defective. Each colony 
had its own establishment, and chose its own officers under 
whom the men were to act. General Ward, who led the 

1 Jour. N". H. Prov. Cong. ; Force's 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 249, 250. For 
Am. Archives, ii. 431, 652; Froth- an account of the arms of the province 
ingham's Siege, 99. The New Hamp- previous to the 19th of April, see 1 M. 
shire troops were organized into three H. Coll. i. 232, and Jour. Prov. Cong, 
regiments, and placed under General 756. For the efforts made to pro- 
Folsom, who, however, did not arrive cure additional supplies, see Jour, 
at Cambridge until the 20th of June. Prov. Cong. 197, 198, 200; Force's 
Two of these regiments, under Stark Am. Archives, ii. 666. Elbridge Ger- 
and Reed, were organized before the ry was placed at the head of the corn- 
battle of Bunker Hill. General Sul- mittee of supplies, and the following 
livan had also arrived before that pe- curious postscript was added to a let- 
riod. ter of instructions : " Sir, you are also 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 168, 171; desired, if powder is to be found in 
Frothinghara's Siege, 102, note, any part of America, to procure it in 
There were a few cannon in other such way and manner as you shall 
places, but the supply was small, think best ; and we will confirm what- 
Jour. Prov. Cong. 520-522, 525, 547. ever you shall do relative to this 
For an account of the number of can- matter." Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 
non in New Haven May 29, see Trum- 75. 

bull MSS. iv. 99. 


Massachusetts forces, was authorized to command only the chap. 
troops from that colony and from New Hampshire ; x but as __J^, 
his orders were copied by the rest, and as his position entitled 1770. 
him to the precedence, a voluntary obedience was yielded to 
him, and he was virtually the commander-in-chief, though he 
had received no official appointment. 2 Nor could a more defi- 
nite arrangement have been expected, under the circumstances. 
Massachusetts had no authority to assume supreme power. 
The Continental Congress was the only body, if any, which 
could properly settle the rank of the officers ; and before that 
body could act, matters were left to regulate themselves. 
Hence the uncertainty which hangs over this period, and the 
difficulties which have arisen in assigning to the officers their 
relative positions. 3 The experience of such a battle as that 
of Bunker Hill was needed to expose the evils of a " want of 
due subordination ;" and after such experience, the war com- 
mittee of Connecticut instructed their generals to obey General 
Ward, and advised the other colonies to follow their exam- 
ple. 4 But even this was a temporary expedient ; nor was the 
army fully organized until the arrival of Washington. 

Imperfect, however, as was the discipline which prevailed, 
there was no lack of courage on the part of the soldiers ; nor 
were they or their officers entirely destitute of military skill. 
General Ward, of Shrewsbury, in Worcester county, had 
served under Abercrombie in the expedition to Canada, and 
returned with the rank of lieutenant colonel. 5 General 
Thomas, of Kingston, in Plymouth county, had also served in 
the French war, 6 as had General Putnam, of Pomfret, Con- 

1 Bradford, i. 380; Sparks's Wash- 333, 338, on these difficulties, and 
ington, iii. 487, 488; Frothingham's Frothingham's Siege, 102. 

Siege, 101. 4 Force's Am. Archives, ii. 1039; 

2 He was appointed to the com- Frothingham's Siege, 101. 

mand on the 19th of May. Jour. 5 Ward's Ward Family, 46 ; Allen 

Prov. Cong. 239, 243, 247 ; Swett, in and Eliot's Biog. Diets. ; Swett, in Life 

Life of Putnam, 187, 188; Ward's of Putnam, 187. 

Ward Family, 48. 6 Allen and Eliot ; also Swett, in 

3 Comp. Jour. Prov. Cong. 257, Life of Putnam, 188; Bradford, iu 


chap, necticut. General Folsom, of New Hampshire, was at the 

^^ capture of Dieskau, in 1755. x Colonel Prescott, of Pepperell, 
1775. had served under Winslow at the conquest of Nova Scotia ; 2 
and Pomeroy and Nixon had served under Pepperrell in the 
reduction of Louisburg. 3 Gridley, the engineer, won laurds 
in the same service ; 4 and General Spencer, of Connecticut, 
had also served in the French war. 5 The gallant Stark had 
served under Braddock ; 6 and other officers, and a large num- 
ber of privates, had seen active service. Indeed, there was 
scarcely a soldier in the ranks who was not a practised marks- 
man, and who did not pride himself on his skill with the 
musket. 7 

As the movements of the tories were somewhat suspicious, 
it became necessary to watch them ; and the committees of 
correspondence and the selectmen of the several towns and 

May 8. districts were authorized to " take effectual care to disarm all 
who would not give an assurance of their good intentions and 
regard to the interests of the country," and to " put it out of 
their power to obstruct by any means whatever the neces- 
sary measures for the common defence." 8 .A manifesto was 

May 5. likewise issued against General Gage, declaring that, by rea- 
son of his having " conducted as an instrument in the hands 
of an arbitrary ministry to enslave this people," he had, " by 

104 ; Thacher's Hist. Plymouth, 90. 6 Allen and Eliot ; also, Life of 

General Thomas died of the small pox Stark. 

in the expedition to Canada, in 1776, 7 J. Adams's Diary, in Works, ii. 

and was lamented as a brave and up- 406. " A few days after this event, 

right officer. [the battle of Lexington,] I rode to 

1 Allen and Eliot ; also Belknap's Cambridge, and saw General Ward, 
Hist. 1ST. H., and Barstow's Hist. N. H. General Heath, General Joseph War- 

2 Allen and Eliot ; also Swett, in ren, and the New England army. 
Life of Putnam, 209, 210. There was great confusion and much 

3 Allen and Eliot ; also Swett, in distress. Artillery, arms, clothing 
Life of Putnam, 189 ; W. Barry's were wanting, and a sufficient supply 
Hist. Framingham. of provisions not easily obtained. 

4 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 194; Neither the officers nor men, however, 
Sparks's Washington, iii. ; Frothing- wanted spirits or resolution." 
ham's Siege, 184. 3 Jour. Pro v. Cong. 202, 205. 

5 Allen and Eliot ; also Hinman's 
War of the Rev. 


these means and many others, utterly disqualified himself to chap. 
serve this colony as governor and in every other capacity, and ^^^ 
that no obedience ought in future to be paid by the several 1775. 
towns and districts in the colony to his writs for calling a 
General Assembly, or to his proclamations, or to any other of 
his acts and doings ; but that, on the other hand, he ought to 
be considered and guarded against as an unnatural and invet- 
erate enemy to the country." 1 

Whether the province should assume into its own hands the 
powers of government was a question upon which a difference 
of opinion existed ; nor was it until after a week's delay, and 
the maturest deliberation, that a resolve was passed author- 
izing an "application to the Continental Congress for obtain- May 12. 
ing their recommendation for this colony to take up and exer- 
cise civil government as soon as may be." 2 Provision w T as 
made, however, for establishing post offices and post riders, 3 May 13. 
and for the erection of a court of inquiry, consisting of seven May 27. 
persons, " to hear all complaints against any person or per- 
sons for treason against the constitution of their country, or 
other breaches of the public peace and security, and to deter- 
mine and make judgment thereon according to the laws of this 
province and those of reason and equity." 4 Yet it is worthy 
of notice that no radical changes were made in the govern- 
ment, either at this date, or, indeed, at a later period, but only 
such alterations as circumstances required. No revolution, in 
fact, of which history furnishes the record, was ever attended 
with fewer innovations upon established usages. The seces- 
sion from the mother country simply severed the political ties 
which had previously bound the colonies to the crown. Nei- 
ther the halls of legislation nor the courts of justice were 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 190, 192, 193, 620, 621 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 210 ; 
525; Stedman's Am. War, i. 121; Bradford, i. 378, i'i. 40-42. 
Bissett's Hist. Eng. i. 426. 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 208, 212, 219 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 197, 207, 208, -223, 525 ; Jour. H. of R. for 1776 j 
219, 229, 319; Jour. Cent. Cong. i. Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 211. 

105, 108 ; Force's Am. Archives, ii. 4 Jour. Prov. Cong. 262, 540. 


chap, invaded. True, a monarchical government was exchanged for 
^^X^ a republican ; the choice of the chief magistrate was revested 
1775. in the people ; the encroachments of usurped authority were 
removed ; and various abuses which had crept in were re- 
formed. But these changes, important as they were, did not 
affect, at least not permanently, the constitution of the Gen- 
eral Court, nor did they abolish the customs which had been 
followed in the other courts. Justice was administered, and 
the business of legislation was conducted, after the old and 
familiar forms. The people took into their own hands the 
management of their affairs ; but they prided themselves in 
the wisdom of their measures rather than in weakening the 
pillars of society — the prostration of which would have en- 
dangered their own safety, as well as have imperilled the 
liberties of their posterity. Great credit should be accorded 
them for this prudence. They were practical conservators of 
the public weal, rejecting the evil, yet retaining the good. 1 

The clergy, for the most part, were ardent patriots, and 
warmly espoused the cause of liberty. Hence their services 
were freely offered as chaplains in the army ; at their annual 
June 1. convention in Watertown they expressed their " sympathy for 
the distresses of their much injured and oppressed country ; " 
and in their address to the Congress they devoutly commended 
the interests of that body, and of their " brethren in arms," to 
" the guidance and protection of that Providence which, from 
the first settlement of this country, has so remarkably ap- 
peared for the preservation of its civil and religious rights." 2 
Indeed, throughout the war, whenever by their counsels they 
could revive the flagging zeal of the faltering, or inspire afresh 
the confidence of the wavering, they engaged in the. work with 
cheerfulness and alacrity ; and it may reasonably be doubted 
whether the liberties of America would have been so speedily 

1 Comp. W.Barry's Hist. Framing- 2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 283, 284; 
ham, 91, note. Bradford, i. 381. 


secured, had it not been for their diligence. They prayed for chap 
success in the hour of battle. The spirit of self-sacrifice was _J^_ 
strong in their breasts. And, amidst the most appalling and 1775. 
difficult scenes, they shrank not from danger, but bravely en- 
countered the deadliest perils, endured without murmuring the 
severest privations, and set an example of heroic devotion 
which spread an infectious enthusiasm among all. 1 

Yet earnest as were those who had entered the lists as the 
champions of freedom, the prospect before them could hardly be 
called flattering. The population of Massachusetts probably 
fell short of three hundred and fifty thousand souls ; 2 and the 
population of the thirteen colonies did not exceed three millions. 3 
Destitute in a great measure of available funds, poorly supplied 
with arms and ammunition, and called from the workshop and 
the plough to the field, they were required to encounter a dis- 
ciplined force, amply provided with the munitions of war, 
flushed with victory from the battles of Europe, and capable 
of being constantly recruited from abroad. To those who • 
weigh the probabilities of success in the fluctuating balance 
of physical strength, the odds against the colonies were cer- 
tainly great. But the cohorts of England, made up as they 
were of veteran troops, were doomed to be vanquished by a 
resolute people trusting in God. A good cause in itself is 

1 Comp. Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 199, of magistrates and rulers. Accord- 

Thacher's Jour. 22, and Bradford, i. ingly we have from our pulpits the 

381. The statements in the text could most fervent and pious effusions to 

be easily substantiated by a multitude the throne of divine grace in behalf of 

of quotations from MS. journals, ser- our bleeding, afflicted country." It 

mons, &c, of the clergy, the contem- was not, in those days, "political 

porary testimony of officers and pri- priestcraft " to preach and pray for 

vates, and the voluminous and valua- freedom. 

ble documents preserved in our state 2 The estimate, in 1776, was 349,- 

and national archives. " It is recom- 094. Jour. Prov. Cong. 755. 
mended," says Thacher, "by our Pro- 3 Translation of Mem. to Sover- 

vincial Congress, that on other occa- eigns of Europe, London, 1781, p. 19; 

sions than the Sabbath, ministers of Colls. Am. Statist. Association. In 

parishes adapt their discourses to the 1791, eight years after the war, the 

times, and explain the nature of civil population of the United States was 

and religious liberty, and the duties but 3,680,253. Hist, of Cong. 193. 



CHAP, invincible. Its triumph may be delayed for a season ; but it 

^^^ can never be finally and fully defeated. 1 

1775. With whatever misgivings, however, a few may have been 

moved, as they reflected upon the difficulties which surrounded 

their path, the more ardent felt that they had engaged in a 

work in the prosecution of which it would be fatal to relax 

Apr. 24. their efforts. Hence Hancock queried with his friends, " Are 
our men in good spirits ? For God's sake, do not suffer the 
spirit to subside until they have perfected the reduction of our 
enemies. Boston must be entered ; the troops must be sent 
away. Our friends are valuable, but our country must be 
saved. I have an interest in that town ; what can be its 
enjoyment to me, if I am obliged to hold it at the will of 
General Gage or any one else ? We must also have the Cas- 
tle. The ships must be removed. Stop up the harbor against 
large vessels coming in." 2 Indeed, the necessity for vigilance 
was every where felt. The crisis had come ; and it depended 
upon the firmness with which it was met whether the Ameri- 
cans should be freemen or slaves. 

May 3. Early in May, the erection of fortifications was commenced ; 
and the first works were probably thrown up at Cambridge. 3 
The guard on the Neck between Boston and Roxbury was 

May 4. still somewhat weak ; and the committee of safety wrote to 
the governments of Connecticut and Rhode Island for a force 
to be sent to secure this pass ; for " if the enemy once gain 
possession of it," they urged, " it will cost us much blood and 
treasure to dislodge them. But it may now be secured by us, 
if we had a force sufficient, without any danger." 4 The ap- 

May9. prehensions of a sally from Boston likewise led to a request 
of the council of war for two thousand men, to reenforce the 
troops at Roxbury ; and the committee of safety ordered the 

1 Comp. J. Adams's Diary, in 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 542, 543; 
Works, ii. 406.. Frothingham's Siege, 106. 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 170, note ; * Jour. Prov. Cong. 536, 537 j 
Force's Am. Archives, ii. 384, 385. Frothingham's Siege, 106 107. 


officers of the different regiments to forward the enlisted chap. 
soldiers forthwith to Cambridge, and the ten nearest towns ^^^ 
to muster one half of their militia and minute men, and march 1775. 
to Roxbury. General Thomas, who was stationed at this 
place, and whose post included a high hill visible from Bos- 
ton, had but seven hundred men under his command ; and, 
conscious of his weakness, he resorted to an artifice to deceive 
the enemy, by " marching his men round and round the hill," 
to multiply their numbers to " any who were reconnoitring." 1 
A similar artifice was subsequently resorted to by General May 13. 
Putnam, who formed the troops in Cambridge, some twenty- 
two hundred in number, in a line of a mile and a half in 
length, and marched from thence to Charlestown. 2 

Occasional skirmishes which occurred with the outposts of 
the enemy, and with foraging parties, tested the valor of the 
American troops, and accustomed them to face the British 
regulars. The islands in the harbor, which were stocked 
with cattle, were the principal scenes of these engagements ; 
and alarms were raised in the neighboring towns of preda- 
tory incursions, which exercised the vigilance of the local 
militia. 3 The skirmishes on Noddle's Island were perhaps May 27 
the most important ; and the Americans captured a number 
of horses belonging to the English, and drove away several 
hundred sheep and cows. 4 The depredations of the English, 
which were vigorously pushed, were as vigorously repulsed ; 
and, as an additional measure of safety and precaution, prep- 
arations were made for the establishment of a naval force at 
the most exposed places, 5 and companies were raised in Cohas- 
set and in other towns for the defence of the sea coast. 6 On 

1 Jour. Pro?. Cong. 537, 540, 541 ; 557 ; Impartial Hist, of the War, 205 ;, in Life of Putnam, 188; Gor- Frothingham's Siege, 109, 110. 
don's Am. Rev. i. 339 ; Frothing- 6 Jour. Pro v. Cong. 308, 540. 
ham's Siege, 107. 6 Join-. Prov. Cong. 433, 531, 533, 

2 Baldwin's Diary, in Frothing- 540 ; Rev. Rolls, vol. xxxvi., in Mass. 
ham's Siege, 108. Archives ; Winsor's Hist. Duxbury, 

3 Frothingham's Siege, 108, 109. 129 ; Barry's Hist. Hanover, 115, 1 16 

4 Jour. Prov. Cong. 292,545, 554, Frothingham's Siege, 111. 


chap, the petition of Major Baldwin, afterwards distinguished for 

v- _ v ^ his abilities as an artificer, surveys were likewise made of the 

1775. ground between the camp of the Massachusetts army and the 

June 6. 

posts of the British. 1 
May io. The second Continental Congress, in the mean time, assem- 
bled at Philadelphia ; and the delegates from Massachusetts 
urged upon their attention the adoption of measures for the 
relief of Boston. John Adams, in particular, advised that 
the first step should be " to recommend to the people of every 
state in the Union to seize on all the crown officers, and hold 
them, with civility, humanity, and generosity, as hostages for 
the security of the people of Boston, to be exchanged for them 
as soon as the British army would release them." He was 
likewise in favor of recommending " to the people of all the 
states to institute governments for themselves, under their 
own authority, and that without loss of time ; " of declaring 
" the colonies free, sovereign, and independent states ; " and 
then informing Great Britain of their willingness " to enter 
into negotiations with them for the redress of all grievances, 
and a restoration of harmony between the two countries upon 
permanent principles." All this, he thought, might be done 
before entering " into any connections, alliances, or negotia- 
tions with foreign powers ; " and then, if Great Britain re- 
fused to accede, it would be time to inform her that, if the 
war was continued, the colonies were " determined to seek 
alliances with France, Spain, and any other power of Europe " 
that would contract with them. Finally, he urged the adop- 
tion of the army in Cambridge as a continental army, the 
officers of which should be appointed, and the provisions for 
its support made, by the General Congress. 2 

But with whatever eloquence these measures were advo- 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 302. ganized into a continental army, and 

2 J. Adams's Diary, in Works, ii. received into the pay of the United 
407. The army at Cambridge was Colonies. Jour. Cont. Cong. i. Ill 
adopted by the General Congress, or- et seq. 


cated, there were not wanting many who hesitated to approve chap. 
them. Especially the Quakers of Pennsylvania, who had ^J^ 
hitherto acquiesced in the action of the colonies, or, at least, 1775. 
who had made no professed opposition, so soon as independ- 
ence was named, " started back." x The delegates from South 
Carolina likewise hesitated, nor could any persuasion remove 
their scruples. 2 At length, committees were appointed to June 3. 
draught a petition to the king, and addresses to the inhabit- 
ants of Great Britain, of Ireland, and of Jamaica, and to 
bring in an estimate of the moneys to be raised for the pros- 
ecution of the war. 3 The action of Massachusetts, in refusing 
obedience to General Gage, was also approved ; A and it was June 9. 
recommended to the towns and districts in that colony, and 
in all others, to collect the materials requisite for the manu- 
facture of gunpowder, and to " transmit the same with all 
possible despatch to the Provincial Convention at New 
York." 5 Ten companies of riflemen were likewise ordered Jun. 14. 
to be raised in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, to 
" march and join the army near Boston, to be there employed 
as light infantry under the command of the chief officers of 
the army." 6 

The next step was of still greater importance, and was the 
corner stone, indeed, of the new structure to be raised. This 
related to the selection of a commander-in-chief. John Han- 
cock, of Massachusetts, the president of the Congress, who 
was " extremely popular throughout the United Colonies, and 
was called ' King Hancock ' all over Europe," is said to have 
"himself had an ambition to be appointed" to this office ; but 

1 J. Adams's Diary, in Works, ii. Washington, iii. 7, 100, note ; Ram- 
407-409. say's Am. Rev. i. 219 ; Austin's Life 

2 J. Adams's Diary, in Works, ii. of Gerry, i. 83, 88. Twelve compa- 
408. nies in all were ordered to be raised ; 

3 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 106 ; Lee's and the men to the number of 1430 
Lee, i. 141 et seq. " were procured and forwarded with 

4 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 108. great expedition." This estimate in- 

5 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 108, 109. eludes the two additional companies 

6 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 110; Gor- ordered to be raised June 22. 
don's Am. Rev. i. 347, 368 ; Sparks's 

VOL. III. 2 


chap, although he had " some pretensions to the compliment on 
^^_^ account of his exertions, sacrifices, and general merits in the 
1775. cause of his country," the " delicacy of his health, and his 
entire want of experience in actual service/' were pleaded as 
objections against his appointment. Nor would it have been 
politic on the part of his friends to have insisted upon his 
choice ; for, even at this early period, jealousies existed be- 
tween the north, and the south ; and the south, it is said, refused 
to enlist in the common cause, if compelled to serve under an 
officer from New England. 1 No alternative was left, there- 
fore, but concession ; and, fortunately for the country, no diffi- 
culty was experienced in selecting for the responsible trust 
one whose abilities were of the highest order, whose courage 
was unquestioned, and whose gentlemanly deportment had 
won for him universal affection and esteem. None need 
be told that reference is here made to the illustrious Wash- 
.Jun.15. ington ; and when the question of his appointment came up, 
" the voices were generally so clearly in his favor, that the 
dissentient members were persuaded to withdraw their oppo- 
sition," and he was unanimously elected. 2 

1 J. Adams's Diary, in Works, ii. tained by some of the m embers _ of 
415-418, and Letter to Lloyd, April Congress as to the policy of appoint- 
14, 1815, in Works, ix. 163, 164. ing a southern general to the corn- 
Washington, also, Writings, iii. 4, 6, mand " of the army about to be adopt- 
speaks of a " political motive," in ad- ed by Congress, 
dition to the " partiality of Congress," 2 Jour. Cont. Cong._ i. Ill, 112; 
which led to his appointment ; and al- Irving's Life of Washington, vol. i. ; 
though he does not specify this mo- Sparks's Washington, iii. App. I. ; N. 
tive, it may have been, as suggested A. Rev. for Oct. 1838, 366 ; Lord 
by Ramsay, Am. Rev. i. 2 16, " to bind Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 42. « I should 
the uninvaded provinces more closely heartily rejoice," wrote Elbridge Ger- 
to the common cause." See also Gor- ry to the Massachusetts delegates in 
don's Am. Rev. i. 349, 350, and Lord Congress, June 4, 1775, " to see this 
Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 49. Mr. Cur- way the beloved Colonel Washington, 
tis, however, Hist. Const. U. S. i. 41- and do not doubt the New England 
48, doubts the correctness of the state- delegates would acquiesce in showing 
ment of Mr. Adams, and thinks that to our sister colony, Virginia, the re- 
" Washington was chosen command- spect which she had before experi- 
er-in-chief for his unquestionable mer- enced from the continent, in making 
its, and not as a compromise between him generalissimo." Austin's Life 
sectional interests and local jealous- of Gerry, i. 79. See also Hancock's 
ies." Yet, at the same time, he ad- Letter to Gerry, June 18, 1775, in 
mits that " serious doubts were enter- ibid. i. 83, and J. Adams's Letter of 


The appointment of a second officer was likewise attended chap. 
with difficulties. General Lee, a native of Wales, and a cor- ^^^ 
respondent of Burke and Charlemont, was first nominated ; 1775. 
and it was declared that, considering his rank, his character, 
and his experience, he was entitled to the place — that he must 
be aut secundus aut nullus. But the services of General Ward 
could not be overlooked ; and, as the chief command had been 
given to an officer from the south, it was no more than just 
that the next highest compliment should be paid to the north. 
Hence General Ward was elected as the second officer, and Jun. 19. 
General Lee as the third. 1 

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, important events were occur- 
ring, and the hour of conflict was rapidly approaching. The 
situation of Gage, cooped up in Boston, and " panting for an 
airing/' of which he was " debarred by his denounced rebels/' 
was peculiarly mortifying ; and his anger against the patriots, 
which had for some time been rising, now overflowed in a 
memorable proclamation declaring martial law to be in force, Jun. 12. 
and offering pardon to all who would forthwith lay down 
their arms, " excepting only from the benefit of such pardon 
Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences are of too 
flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than 
that of condign punishment." 2 This manifesto, the " climax of 

the same date, p. 88. The charge of from the letter of Adams that Lee 
Botta, Am. Rev., that " the members aspired to the chief command, and was 
of Congress from Massachusetts, and " extremely assiduous in his visits to 
particularly Samuel Adams, had never all the members of Congress at their 
been able to brook that the supreme lodgings, and universally represented 
command of all the armies should in America as a classical and univer- 
have been conferred on a Virginian, to sal scholar, as a scientific soldier, and 
the exclusion of the generals of their as one of the greatest generals in the 
province," is fully examined and an- world, who had seen service with Bur- 
swered by Austin in his Life of Gerry, goyne in Portugal and in Poland, &c, 
i. 233 et seq., and is, indeed, suffi- and who was covered over with wounds 
ciently refuted by the extracts above, he had received in battles." Of the 
1 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 114, 115; other officers appointed by Congress, 
Sparks's Washington, hi. 6 ; Gordon's Gates was an Englishman and a god- 
Am. Rev. i. 350 ; J. Adams's Diary, son of Horace Walpole, and Mont- 
in Works, ii. 418, and Lett, to Lloyd, gomery was a native of the north of 
in Works, ix. 164 ; Lord Mahon's Ireland. 
Hist. Eng. vi. 52. It would appear 2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 330, 331 ; Im- 


chap, all possible folly," and a theme on which the poetry of Truni- 

s- ^ v ^ / bull was successfully exerted to amuse, was brought before the 

1775. Provincial Congress ; a committee was appointed for its con- 

Jun. 13. 

sideration, and a counter proclamation was prepared, declar- 
ing pardon to all offenders against the rights and liberties of 
the country, " excepting only from the benefit of such pardon 
Thomas Gage and Samuel Graves, with the mandamus coun- 
sellors Sewall, Paxton, and Hallowell, who had not resigned 
their office, and all the natives of America, not belonging to 
the navy or army, who went out with the regular troops on 
the nineteenth of April last, and were countenancing, aiding, 
and assisting them in the robberies and murders then commit- 
ted ; " but the operations of the field prevented its issue. 1 

These operations had long been maturing ; for Gage had 
been advised to seize and hold the heights in Charlestown 
and at Dorchester, both of which were of the greatest impor- 
May25. tance for his security. The recruits for his army had already 
arrived, with Generals Clinton, Burgoyne, and Howe ; so that 
he had under his command nearly, if not quite, ten thousand 
men, all in high spirits, accustomed to hard service, and flushed 
with the idea of an easy conquest. 2 Had he, at an earlier 

partial Hist, of the War, 207 ; Sted- their settlements, and described their 

man's Am. War, i. 124; Gordon's conduct to have been such as their 

Am. Rev. i. 343 ; Austin's Life of principles required. It also sketched 

Gerry, i. 70, 71 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. the policy of Britain in former times 

i. 200; Bissett's Hist. Eng. i. 428; and in the present — the beneficial 

Thacher's Jour. 22; Lord Mahon's consequences which accrued to both 

Hist. Eng. vi. 54 ; Frothingham's parties from the one, and the baneful 

Siege, 1 13. effects from the other ; repeated the 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 344-347 ; Join, grievances before stated ; and added 

Cont. Cong. i. 134-139. The answer new subjects of complaint, in the re- 

of the General Congress to the mani- dress and hearing refused, and in the 

festo of Gage is characterized by Bis- measures for subjugation adopted, 

sett, Hist. Eng. i. 431, as " a very mas- After detailing those acts and coun- 

terly paper, and in point of ability sels as being, together with antecedent 

equal to any public declaration re- proceedings, the causes of the war, 

corded in diplomatic history." " It and appealing to God and man for its 

enumerated," he adds, " with clear- justice, they specified the resources 

ness and plausibility the alleged causes by which they should be able to carry 

of the war, deduced the history of the it on with force and effect." 

American colonies from their first es- 2 Impartial Hist, of the War, 204 ; 

tablishment, marked the principles of Stedman's Am. War, i. 124 : Bi^"'- 


date, availed himself of the advantages of the positions to chap. 
which his attention was turned, and erected upon them works ^^ 
of sufficient strength to command the town, a different aspect 1775. 
might, perhaps, have been given to the war. But he had 
delayed too long to make the attempt with impunity ; for the 
Americans, acquainted with his designs, planned to counteract 
them by previously possessing themselves of the posts in 

Some time before, a committee had been appointed by the May 12. 
Provincial Congress to reconnoitre, especially at Charlestown, 
with a view to the erection of suitable fortifications ; and in 
their report they recommended the construction of a breast- 
work near the present site of the M'Lean Asylum, and another 
on Prospect Hill, with redoubts on Winter and Bunker Hills, 
provided with cannon to annoy the enemy. This report was 
referred to the council of war, and so far approved as to 
authorize the construction of a part of the works ; but, as a 
difference of opinion prevailed relative to the redoubt on 
Bunker Hill, no steps were immediately taken towards forti- 
fying that post. 1 Now, however, that the intentions of Gage 
to occupy Dorchester Heights were definitely known, the com- 
mittee of safety deprecated longer delay, and voted that pos- Jun. 15. 
session should be taken of " Bunker's Hill, in Charlestown," 
and of " some one hill or hills on Dorchester Neck." 2 

The position of the American army is said to have been as 
follows : its right wing, under General Thomas, was stationed 
at Roxbury, and consisted of about four thousand Massachu- 
setts troops, with the forces from Rhode Island, under General 
Greene, who were at Jamaica Plains, and the greater part of 
the regiment of General Spencer, from Connecticut. In this 

Hist. Eng. i. 428; Ramsay's Am. Putnam, 200-203; Frothingham's 

Rev. i. 200 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. Siege, 115, note. 
vi. 53 ; Swett, in Life of Putnam, 2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 569 ; Gordon's 

198 ; Frothingham's Siege, 114. Am. Rev. i. 350 ; Bissett's Hist. Eng. 

1 Jour. Prov. 543; Worcester i. 429; Frothingham's Siege, 117. 
Magazine, ii. 126 ; Swett, in Life of 


chap, wing there were three or four artillery companies, provided 
L with field pieces and a few heavy cannon. The head quarters 
1775. of General Ward, the principal officer from Massachusetts, 
were at Cambridge, where the centre of the army was sta- 
tioned, consisting of fifteen regiments from Massachusetts, the 
half-organized battalion of artillery under Colonel Gridley, 
and the regiment of General Putnam, with the other Connecti- 
cut troops. In this division there were four artillery compa- 
nies with field pieces. The left wing comprised three com- 
panies of Gerrish's regiment, stationed at Chelsea ; Stark's 
regiment, at Medford ; and Reed's regiment, at Charlestown 
Neck. 1 

The topographical features of this region are too well known 
to render it necessary to describe them minutely. It may 
suffice to state that the peninsula of Charlestown, of an oval 
form, about a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth in 
its widest part, lies opposite the northerly part of Boston, and 
is included between the Charles and Mystic Rivers. The 
Neck, at the western end of this peninsula, was an artificial 
causeway connecting the town with the main land, and was 
then so low as to be often overflowed. Near this Neck was a 
large green, known as the Common, by which ran two roads 
— one in a westerly direction to Cambridge Common, and the 
other in a northerly direction to Medford. Bunker Hill, 
which begins at the isthmus, rises gradually for about three 
hundred yards, forming a round, smooth hill, one hundred and 
ten feet high, sloping on two sides towards the water, and 
connected by a ridge on the south with Breed's Hill, which is 
sixty- two feet high. The easterly and westerly sides of this 
height were steep, the settled part of the town being at the 
base of the latter side ; and at the base of the former were 
brick kilns, clay pits, and an impassable slough. A highway, 

1 Sparks's Washington, iii. 488 ; note ; Swett, in Life of Putnam, 179, 
Frothingham's Siege, 117, 118, and 181, 191, 192. 


from sixteen to thirty feet broad, ran over Bunker Hill to chap. 
Moulton's Point, near which rose Morton's Hill, some thirty- ^J^^ 
five feet high ; and another road, connecting with this, wound 1775. 
round Breed's Hill. The easterly portions of these eminences 
were chiefly improved for mowing and pasturage, and the 
westerly portions contained fine orchards and gardens. 1 

On Friday, the sixteenth of June, by the advice of the coun- Jun. 16. 
cil of war, orders were issued by General Ward to Colonel 
William Prescott, and the commanding officers of Frye's and 
Bridge's regiments, with a fatigue party of two hundred Con- 
necticut troops, under Thomas Knowlton, and the artillery 
company of Captain Samuel Gridley, of forty-nine men and 
two field pieces, — in all, about twelve hundred men, supplied 
with a day's provisions and suitable intrenching tools, — to 
proceed to Charlestown, and fortify Bunker Hill, under the 
direction of Colonel Richard Gridley, the chief engineer. 2 
In accordance with these orders, the detachment paraded on 
Cambridge Common, and, about nine in the evening, after 
listening to a fervent prayer from President Langdon, of Har- 
vard College, commenced its march, headed by Prescott, and 
preceded by two sergeants carrying dark lanterns. At Charles- 
town Neck the troops halted, where they were joined by 
Major Brooks, and probably by General Putnam, and another 
general ; 3 and Captain Nutting, with his own company and 
ten of the Connecticut troops, was ordered to proceed to the 
lower part of the town as a guard, while the main body 
marched on over Bunker Hill. Here they again halted, and 
a consultation was held relative to the most suitable place to 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 119, 120; Charlestown ; but this must be a mis- 
Swett, in Life of Putnam, 203, 204. take. Marshall, Life of Washington, 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 365 ; Gordon's ii. 214, commits a still greater mis- 
Am. Rev. i. 350 ; Bissett's Hist. Eng. take in representing the number sent 
i. 429; Frothingham's Siege, 121, as 4000. 

122 ; Swett, in Life of Putnam, 208, 3 Comp. Frothingham's Siege, 122, 

209. Trumbull, Letter of Aug. 31, 123, notes, with Swett, in Life of Put- 

1779, in 1 M. H. Coll. vi. 159, says nam, 218. 
there were but 600 men sent to 


chap, be fortified. The orders of Ward were, that the works should 
^^ be thrown up on Bunker Hill ; but, as that was too far from 
1775. the enemy to annoy their army and shipping, though in other 
respects the most eligible and defensible position, it was de- 
cided to intrench on Breed's Hill, which was better adapted to 
the objects of the expedition, and better suited to the spirit 
of the officers. 1 

The position being decided upon, the plan of the fortifica- 
tions was marked out by Gridley, the tools were distributed, 
and about midnight the first spade entered the ground. The 
difficulties of the enterprise were truly formidable ; for the 
Boston shore, directly opposite, was belted by a chain of sen- 
tinels, and in the waters between were moored the British 
vessels of war. 2 The proximity to the enemy prompted to 
caution ; and a detachment under Captain Maxwell was or- 
dered to. patrol near the old ferry to watch their motions. 
The workmen, in the mean time, "performed prodigies of 
labor/ 7 to which they were stimulated by the presence of their 
officers, and the consciousness that every thing depended on 
their celerity. Twice during the night did the vigilant Pres- 
cott, with Major Brooks, steal to the shore to reconnoitre ; 
but the usual cry of " All is well," drowsily repeated from ship 
to ship, assured him that his movements were as yet unknown. 
Before the sun rose, a redoubt, eight rods square and six feet 
high, was thrown up on the summit of the hill, where the 
monument now stands, the strongest side of which, in the 
form of a redan, faced the town, and protected the south side 
of the hill. On the east was an extensive field ; and in a line 
with this, running down the north side of the hill towards the 
slough, was a breastwork, which, at its southern extremity, 
was separated from the redoubt by a narrow passage way, or 
sally port, protected in front by a blind ; and in the rear of 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 351 ; Froth- 2 For their positions, see Frothing- 
ingham's Siege, 122, 123 ; Swett, in ham's Siege, 124. 
Life of Putnam, 211. 


the redoubt was a passage, or gateway, opening towards the chap. 
slough. 1 s^~X~ 

At an early hour, as the gray of the morning was dissipated 1775. 
by the beams of the rising sun, the veil was lifted, and the 
officers of the fleet beheld with amazement the Americans 
overlooking them from their strong intrenchments, which had 
sprung up as by magic while they were asleep. The cannon 
of the Lively were the first to fire ; and, as the sound of the 
guns broke the stillness of the summer's morning, the alarm 
was spread both in the British camp at Boston and the Amer- 
ican camp at Cambridge. 2 Gage was thunderstruck, and 
immediately called a council of war ; while from several of 
the frigates, from the floating batteries, from the decks of the 
Somerset, and from a mortar on Copp's Hill, a shower of 
balls and bombs was poured in upon the works sufficient to 
appall the stoutest heart. Yet steadily the Americans contin- 
ued their toil, strengthening their intrenchments, and throw- 
ing up platforms of wood and earth as a foothold to stand 
upon during the engagement. 3 To inspire them with still 
greater confidence, Prescott himself mounted the parapet, and 
walked leisurely around, inspecting the works, issuing his 
orders, and addressing the soldiers with words of encourage- 
ment or sallies of humor. 4 

As the day advanced, the heat became oppressive ; and the 
gallant band, who had toiled so long without even water to 
quench their thirst, found their stock of provisions exhausted. 
At this juncture, the officers urged Colonel Prescott to send 
for relief ; but the men were too enthusiastic to ask for suc- 
cors, and the colonel, in reply, declared that " the enemy would 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 351 ; Swett, 3 Impartial Hist, of the War, 209 ; 
in Life of Putnam, 211 ; Frothing- Thacher's Jour. 26 ; Swett, in Life of 
ham's Siege, 135, and notes. Putnam, 214; Frothingham's Siege, 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 365 ; Heath's 126. 

Mems. 18; Thacher's Jour. 26; Bis- 4 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 214, 
sett's Hist. Eng. i.429; Lord Ma- 215; Frothingham's Siege, 126. 
hon's Hist. Eng. vi. 55 ; Swett, in 
Life of Putnam, 213. 


chap, not dare attack them, and if they did, would be defeated. The 
^^^ men who had raised the works were the best qualified to de- 
1775. fend them. They had already learned to despise the face of 
' the enemy. They had the merit of the labor, and should 
enjoy the honor of the victory." 1 Thus encouraged, this 
Spartan band remained at their posts ; while Captain Nutting, 
with his company, and Captain Walker, with a small detach- 
ment, were ordered into Charlestown, near the ferry, to watch 
the movements of the British. 2 

The council of war which had been called by Gage, finding 
the Americans were strongly intrenched, decided unanimously 
that it was necessary to dislodge them, but could not agree 
on the mode of attack. Clinton and Grant, officers of expe- 
rience, were in favor of embarking at the foot of the Com- 
mon in boats, and, under the protection of the batteries, land- 
ing in the rear of the Americans, to cut off their retreat ; and 
a majority of the council fell in with their views. But Gage, 
full of confidence in his own superior knowledge, opposed the 
plan as unmilitary and hazardous — placing his troops be- 
tween two armies, the one strongly fortified, and the other 
superior in numbers. 3 It was therefore decided to make the 
attempt in front ; orders were issued for the troops to parade ; 
and the manoeuvring of a corps of dragoons, and the rattling 
of artillery carriages and wagons, announced to the Ameri- 
cans that an attack was contemplated. Prescott was in ecsta- 
sies. "Now, my boys," said he, " we shall have a fight ; and 
we shall beat them, too." 4 Yet the condition of his men was 
far from encouraging. No refreshments had arrived, and they 
were nearly exhausted by hunger and fatigue. A special 
messenger was accordingly sent to General Ward for a re- 

1 Oral Communication of Hon. 2 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 216. 

Lemuel Shaw to the Mass. Hist. Soc. ; 3 Stedman's Hist, of the War, L 

Swett, in Life of Putnam, 215, 216 ; 12 ; Bissett's Hist. Eng. i. 430. 

Frothingham's Siege, 127. 4 Swett, in Lite of Putnam, 217. 


enforcement and for supplies ; and Major Brooks, afterwards chap. 
Governor Brooks, was selected for that purpose. 1 +^t-~ 

General Ward, in the mean time, had been urged by Putnam, 1775. 
who had returned to the camp,? to send reinforcements to 
Prescott ; but, doubtful of the expediency of the measure, he 
ordered only a third of Stark's regiment to Charlestown, and, 
on the arrival of Major Brooks, refused further to weaken his 
army until the intentions of the enemy were more fully re- 
vealed. They might, he observed, attack Cambridge first, 
where the scanty stores of the province were lodged ; and, as 
the salvation of the country depended upon these, it would be 
unwise and unsafe to risk their capture. As the committee 
of safety were then in session, however, he consented to refer 
the subject to them ; and Richard Devens, one of the mem- 
bers, who was a resident of Charlestown, with an anxiety 
almost amounting to frenzy importuned them to comply with 
Prescott's request. His eloquence prevailed ; and marching 
orders were issued to the whole of the regiments of Stark and 
Reed, who were furnished with fifteen charges of loose pow- 
der and balls to a man, and sent on their way. 3 

Pending these movements on the part of the Americans, 
the British, by taking advantage of the tide, were enabled to 
bring three or four floating batteries to bear on the intrench- 
ments, and the firing became severe ; but the only return made 
by the Americans wajg a few shot from a cannon in a corner 
of the redoubt. 4 At length, about eleven o'clock, the troops 
under Prescott ceased from their labors, the intrenching tools 
were piled in their rear, and all awaited the arrival of the 
expected refreshments and recruits. No works had as yet 
been thrown up on Bunker Hill, as a protection in case of a 
retreat ; nor was it possible, under the circumstances, to have 

1 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 218 ; Thacher's Jour. 26; Swett, in Life of 
Frothingham's Siege, 128. Putnam, 219, 221 ; Frothingham's 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 128, note. Siege, 128. 

3 Ward's Shrewsbury, 53, 54, 55 ; 4 Frothingham's Siege, 129. 



chap, done more than was done. If, therefore, the neglect of this 
^^ post was an oversight, it could not be helped. Yet, as a par- 
1775. tial atonement for the error, at a later hour in the day, by the 
* advice of Putnam, the tools were sent to Bunker Hill, and a 
breastwork was begun ; but the operations of the field inter- 
rupted the labor, and before night the tools were taken by the 
enemy. 1 

The preparations of Gage were now completed ; and, about 
noon, four battalions of infantry, ten companies of grenadiers, 
and ten of light infantry, with a corps of artillery, were em- 
barked in boats from the North Battery and from the end 
of Long Wharf. Two of the ships of war had been ordered 
to move up the river to join with the Somerset, the floating 
batteries, and the battery on Copp's Hill in firing upon the 
American works ; the Falcon and the Lively swept the low 
grounds in front of Breed's Hill, to protect the landing ; 
the Glasgow frigate and the Symmetry transport, moored 
farther up Charles River, raked the Neck. 2 A blue flag 
displayed was the signal for starting ; and, as the meridian 
sun shone in its splendor upon the glittering array of scarlet 
uniforms and burnished muskets, the plashing of the oars, as 
the boats moved on, the flashes of fire from the throats of the 
cannon, and the deafening roar which reverberated from the 
waters and the wood-crowned hills, rendered the spectacle one 
of sublime and thrilling interest. 3 

At one o'clock the boats touched at Moulton's Point ; the 
troops were landed without molestation, and formed into three 
lines. Directly it was discovered that the cartridges which 
had been sent for the use of the artillery were too large for 
the pieces ; and General Howe, who had examined the Amer- 
ican works, and found them more formidable than he had 

1 Heath's Mems. 19, 20; Froth- Rev. i. 351; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 
ingham's Siege, 130, and note; Swett, 201; Bissett's Hist. Eng. i. 429; 
in Life of Putnam, 225. Humphreys's Life of Putnam, 95 ; 

2 Impartial Hist, of the War, 209 ; Frothingham's Siege, 130, 131, notes. 
Heath's Mems. 18; Gordon's Am. 3 Frothingham's Siege, 131. 


anticipated, sent to Gage for reinforcements and for a fresh ch*ap. 
supply of powder. During the absence of the messenger, the ^J^ 
British troops dined ; and many, at that hour, ate their last 1775. 

, , Jun. 17. 

meal. 1 

At two o'clock, more troops arrived ; and at three, the re- 
enforcements, consisting of the forty-seventh regiment, the 
battalion of marines, and a few companies of grenadiers and 
light infantry, landed at the ship yard, at the east end of 
Breed's Hill. 2 The movements of the British were soon 
known at Cambridge ; and the bells were rung, and drums 
were beaten. Orders were likewise issued for all the troops, 
save Ward's own regiment, and those of Gardner and Patter- 
son, and part of Bridge's, who were reserved to be prepared 
for an attack on Cambridge, to march to Charlestown. At 
the latter place the Americans were particularly active ; and 
the Connecticut troops, under Captain Knowlton, with the 
artillery and two field pieces, were ordered to oppose the Brit- 
ish right wing, and took post behind a rail fence running across 
the tongue of land from the road to the Mystic, — a distance 
of two hundred and fifty yards, — in front of which was a thick 
orchard ; and, by pulling up the neighboring fences, a breast- 
work was hastily formed, the intervening spaces being stuffed 
with grass which had been recently mown. This imperfect 
defence was about two hundred yards in the rear of the main 
breastwork, and eighty yards in the rear of the head of the 
slough, leaving an extensive opening between the breastwork and 
the fence exposed to cannon shot, and a considerable space be- 
tween the slough and the fence open to the advance of infantry. 
This was the weak point, yet the key, of the American position. 3 

1 Impartial Hist, of the War, 209 ; phreys's Life of Putnam, 95 ; Heath's 

Bissett's Hist. Eng. i. 429 ; Lord Ma- Mems. 18 ; Frothingham's Siege, 137. 
hon's Hist. Eng. vi. 55 ; Swett, in 3 Heath's Mems. 19 ; Thacher's 

Life of Putnam, 225 ; Frothingham's Jour. 28; Swett, in Life of Putnam, 

Siege, 131, 132. 222, 223 ; Frothingham's Siege, 134, 

Impartial Hist, of the War, 209 ; and note. 

Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 201 Hum- 


chap. The detachments of guards were now recalled by Colonel 
^^ Prescott, and posted at a cartway running southward from 
1775. the south-eastern angle of the redoubt to the narrow road 
' round the hill, where a breastwork of fences, filled in with 
grass, was thrown up as on the left. 1 Already had Warren 
and Pomeroy arrived on the field as volunteers ; and their 
presence was greeted with the heartiest cheers. 2 General 
Putnam had likewise returned, with the intention of remain- 
ing to share in the battle ; and he tarried in Charlestown 
through the whole afternoon, ordering the reinforcements as 
they arrived, encouraging the troops to behave gallantly in 
the action, and rendering invaluable services in every quarter. 
The regiment of Stark arrived at the Neck between two and 
three o'clock ; and though it was enfiladed by a galling fire 
from the ships and batteries, and Captain Dearborn, who was 
by his side, urged him to quicken his step, the undaunted 
colonel replied, " One fresh man in action is worth ten fatigued 
ones," and marched steadily over. 3 

The American troops were posted as advantageously as the 
nature of the ground permitted. The original detachment, 
commanded by Colonel Prescott, with the exception of the 
Connecticut troops, were at the redoubt and breastwork, 
where they were joined, just before the action commenced, by 
portions of the Massachusetts regiments under Colonels Brew- 
er, Nixon, Woodbridge, and Little, and Major Moore with one 
of Callender's artillery companies. General Warren was also 
at the redoubt, where he served as a volunteer. 4 Gridley's 
artillery company and that under Captain Callender were 
stationed at the exposed point between the breastwork and 
the rail fence. Perkins's company, belonging to Little's regi- 
ment, and the troops under Nutting, with a part of Warner's 

1 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 223. lar incidents, but refers them to Gen- 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 133. eral Putnam. 

3 Frothingham's Siege, 134. Swett, 4 Heath's Mems. 20 5 Frothing- 
in Life of Putnam, 225, relates simi- ham's Siege, 136. 


company, lined the cartway on the right of the redoubt. The chap. 
Connecticut troops, under Knowlton, with those from New ^^_ 
Hampshire under Stark and Reed, and a few of the Massachu- 1775. 
setts troops, were at the other fence. Putnam, who took 
charge of these scattered forces, was at the same place when 
the battle began ; l and General Pomeroy, armed with a mus- 
ket, served there as a volunteer. 2 Three other companies were 
stationed in Main Street, at the base of Breed's Hill, and 
formed the extreme right. 3 

The British troops, probably not less than three thousand 
in number, 4 were under the command of General Howe, an 
officer of distinguished bravery and merit ; and under him 
were Pigot, Nesbit, Abercrombie, Clarke, Butler, Williams, 
Buce, Spendlove, Smelt, Mitchell, Pitcairn, Short, Small, and 
Lords Percy and Pawdon, most of whom were veterans in 
the service. 5 The neighboring heights, which commanded a 
view of the scene of action, were thronged with people, many 
from a distance, anxious to witness the approaching contest : 
and the steeples of the churches in Boston were crowded by 
the inhabitants of the metropolis and by British soldiers. 6 

The fire from Copp's Hill, from the ships, and from the bat- 
teries now centred on the intrenchments ; while a furious 
cannonade was opened on the American camp at Poxbury, to 
divert the attention of that wing of the army. 7 Before open- 
ing the action, General Howe addressed his army, encouraging 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 136. i. 202, Thacher, Jour. 26, Gordon, 

2 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 228 ; Am. Rev. i. 352, and Bradford, i. 384, 
Frothingham's Siege, 136. say 3000. Contemporary MSS. say 

3 Frothingham's Siege, 136, notes. 3300 ; and the Jour, of the Prov. 
There is considerable confusion in the Cong. 366, says between 3000 and 
account of the position of the Arner- 4000. Swett's estimate of 5000 is 
icans. altogether too large. See, further, 

4 Trumbull, Lett, of Aug. 31, 1779, Frothingham's Siege, 191. 

in 1 M. H. Coll. vi. 159, says the 5 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 226. 

number of the British was but 1200. 6 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 226, 

Stedman, Am. War, i. 126, Bissett, 227. 

Hist. Eng. i. 429, Lord Mahon, Hist. 7 Heath's Mems. 20 ; Swett, in Life 

Eng. vi. 59, and Heath, Memoirs, 20, of Putnam, 227 ; Frothingham's 

say 2000. Marshall, Life of Wash- Siege, 138. 

ington, ii. 231, Ramsay, Am. Rev. 


chap, them to " behave like Englishmen and good soldiers ; " x and, 

s- ^ v ^, before moving from his first position, he sent out strong flank 

1775. guards, and directed his field pieces to play on the American 

' lines. 2 This fire was but feebly returned by Gridley and Cal- 

lender ; and the guns of the former were soon disabled and 

drawn to the rear, while Callender, alleging that his cartridges 

were too large for his pieces, withdrew to Bunker Hill. Here 

he was met by Putnam, and ordered to return ; but he refused 

to obey. At length he was deserted by his men ; and the 

pieces were recovered, and drawn to the rail fence, by Captain 

Ford's company, which had just entered the field. 3 Flanking 

parties, under Robinson and Woods, were likewise detached 

to annoy the enemy ; but no particulars are given of their 

service. 4 

The British columns were soon put in motion, and advanced 
in two divisions — the right, under General Howe, pushing 
towards the rail fence, to cut off a retreat from the redoubt, 
and the left, under General Pigot, proceeding to storm the 
redoubt and breastwork. 5 In a short time, the fire from the 
artillery ceased ; and General Howe, much to his chagrin, 
learned that twelve pound balls had been sent to load his six 
pound guns ; upon which he ordered the pieces to be charged 
with grape. The progress of the artillery, however, was 
greatly impeded by the miry ground at the base of the hill ; 
and it was posted near the brick kilns, where its balls pro- 
duced but little effect. 6 The troops, heated by the burning 
sun, burdened with knapsacks, and obstructed by the tall 
grass and fences in their way, moved forward slowly, yet with 

1 Clarke's Narr. in Frothingham's iii. 490; Frothingham's Siege, 185. 
Siege, 137. 4 Frothingham's Siege, 138. 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 138. 5 Impartial Hist, of the War, 210; 

Stedman's Am. War, i. 126 ; Ram- 
say's Am. Rev. i. 202 ; Swett, in Life 
of Putnam, 229 ; Frothingham's 

Boston Centinelfor 1818; Frothing- Siege, 138, 139. 
ham's Siege, 138. Callender was af- c Stedman's Am. War, i. 129; 

terwards cashiered for his conduct on Frothingham's Siege, 140, and note. 
this occasion. Sparks's Washington, 

3 Force's Am. Archives, ii. 1705 
Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 60 
Swett, in Life of Putnam, 231, 232 


unbounded confidence. " Let us take the bull by the horns," chap. 
was shouted by some ; and, inspired with the hope of an easy ^J^, 
victory, not a doubt was entertained that the "cowardly 1775. 
Americans " would flee at the first charge. But the yeomanry 
of Massachusetts were made of too stern stuff to recoil before 
any force without giving battle, and were ordered by their 
officers to reserve their fire until the British were within ten 
or twelve yards of their works, and then to wait until the 
word was given. " Powder is scarce," it was said, " and must 
not be wasted." " Wait till you see the white of their eyes ; 
then fire low ; take aim at their waistbands." " Aim at the 
handsome coats." " Pick off the commanders." 1 

At length the enemy came within gunshot ; and a few of 
the more ardent, forgetting the caution which had been given, 
hastily fired ; but Prescott severely and indignantly reproved 
them, and some of the officers ran round the top of the par- 
apet, and kicked up the guns. When within eight rods, the 
order was given ; and from redoubt and breastwork a mur- 
derous volley was poured in, which mowed down officers and 
soldiers by scores. Colonel Abercrombie had sneered at the 
cowardice of the Americans. " Colonel Abercrombie, are the 
Yankees cowards ? " was now shouted from their ranks. But 
if the Americans were not cowards, neither were the British, 
and they returned the fire with unperturbed coolness. The 
Americans, however, were protected by their works ; and 
Pigot, with " surly reluctance," was obliged to retreat. 2 

Howe, in the mean time, led the right wing against the rail 
fence ; and the light infantry moved along the banks of the 

1 Stedman's Am. War, i. 128, 129 ; " were blown to the winds the silly 
Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 57 ; predictions of Lord Sandwich and 
Swett, in Life of Putnam, 230 ; Froth- Colonel Grant as to the alleged clefi- 
mgham's Siege, 140. ciency of courage in the colonists — 

2 Impartial Hist, of the War, 210; predictions which, besides being in 
Thacher's Jour. 27 ; Lord Mahon's this case utterly false and groundless, 
Hist. Eng. vi. 57 ; Swett, in Life of have always a manifest tendency to 
Putnam, 231 ; Frothingham's Siege, defeat themselves." 

141. "Then," says Lord Mahon, 
VOL. III. 3 


chap. Mystic to turn the left of the American line, while the grena- 
^J^, diers advanced directly in front. 1 The field pieces which Cal- 
1775. lender had deserted, and which Putnam had recovered, were 
' here brought to bear, and the general himself directed some of 
the discharges ; 2 but when the advancing troops deployed into 
line, and a few, as at the redoubt, hastily fired, the veteran 
officer rode to the spot, his sword whistling through the air, 
and with a voice of thunder threatened to cut down the next 
man who disobeyed. At length, when they were at the right 
distance, the word was given ; and the British were mowed 
down as severely as at the redoubt. The officers especially 
were victims to the aim of the skilful marksmen, who, as they 
saw one, shouted, " Shoot him ! shoot him ! " 3 Nearly every 
shot was fatal ; and the carnage was so great, that the col- 
umns were broken and compelled to retreat. Some of the 
Americans were eager to pursue, and jumped over the breast- 
work for that purpose ; but the officers remonstrated, and 
they were with difficulty restrained. 4 

For a brief period the Americans seemed to be victorious. 
But Prescott was confident that the attack would be renewed, 
and Putnam rode to Bunker Hill to urge forward the re- 
enforcements which had long been expected. Some had 
reached Charlestown Neck, but were deterred from crossing 
by the storm of shot which raked the passage ; and Gerrish, 
who had ventured over, confessed that he was exhausted. In 
vain did Putnam attempt to rally them, and inspire them with 
a portion of his own resolute spirit. In vain he entreated 
and threatened by turns, lashing his horse with the flat of his 
sword, and crossing and recrossing to convince them there 
was no danger. The storm raged too fiercely to admit of a 
revival of their courage, and only a few could be persuaded to 
follow. 5 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 141. 4 Frothingham's Siege, 142. 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 141. 5 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 233 

3 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 232 ; 236 ; Frothingham's Siege, 143. 
Frothingham's Siege, 142. 


The British troops were speedily reorganized, and advanced chap. 
to the attack. But the obstacles before them were the same ^J^ 
as before ; and they had, besides, to pass over the dead bodies 1775. 
of their comrades, scattered upon the hill. At this juncture 
the cry was raised that the town was on fire ; and, turning 
their eyes thitherwards, the Americans, to their horror, saw 
dense clouds of smoke ascending, and the forked flames, from 
churches and dwellings, shooting and glaring upon the even- 
ing sky. 1 It was, indeed, a terrific scene, such as had never 
before been witnessed on these shores ; and the mingled roar 
of cannon and flame, and the storm of shot and cinders which 
hurtled around, contrasted painfully with the calmness of 
nature, smiling in loveliness and beauty on all. 2 Thousands 
of eyes gazed on the spectacle with feelings of awe ; and the 
varied emotions excited by the battle and by the burning of 
the town stirred every heart to its inmost depths. 

The British troops continued to advance, but with more 
caution than at first ; and, as their fire was directed more 
skilfully, a number of the Americans were killed or wounded. 
When they were within six rods, the Americans fired ; and 
officers and men fell in heaps — whole ranks being swept 
away in a moment's time. Partially recovering, however, 
they still pressed forward ; but the leaden storm burst upon 
them with resistless fury. General Howe was in the hottest 
of this fire ; and two of his aids and several officers fell at 
his side. In vain did the survivors urge the men on at the 
points of their swords ; they were compelled to give way. and 
retreated in confusion, leaving the ground strewed with the 
slain. 3 

1 Stedman's Am. War, i. 126 ; 2 Thacher's Jour. 29 ; Burgoyne to 

Thacher's Jour. 28 ; Ramsay's Am. Stanley, in Force's Am. Archives, ii., 

Rev. i. 202 ; Swett, in Life of Put- and Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 56 ; 

nam, 239 ; Frothingham's Siege, 143. Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 353 ; Frothing- 

The town seems to have been set on ham's Siege, 144. 

fire soon after the commencement of 3 Impartial Hist, of the War, 2 10 ; 

the action ; and by the time the Brit- Stedman's Am. War, i. 127, 128 ; 

ish rallied, the flames had made alarm- Rivington's Gazette for Aug. 3, 1775 ; 

ing progress. Frothingham's Siege, 145, 146. 


Some time elapsed before they again rallied — so much 

that the Americans thought they would not renew the assault. 

1775. Putnam, who was on horseback, had once more hastened to 
Jun. 17. 

the rear for the reinforcements ; but the disorder in the 

camp at Cambridge was such that the commands of General 
Ward were imperfectly executed. A few companies were col- 
lected, however, and marched on to Charlestown ; but several 
which were expected did not arrive. 1 In the mean time, some 
of the troops were scattering — skulking behind rocks, and 
haycocks, and apple trees ; and some even retreated, alleging 
exhaustion, or that they had no officers to lead them on. Yet 
in the redoubt all was quiet ; and the gallant Prescott re- 
mained at his post, encouraging his men to resist to the last, 
and assuring them that, if the British were once more driven 
back, they could never again rally. 2 " We are ready for the 
red coats," was the hearty response. But ammunition was 
failing ; and only a few artillery cartridges were left, which 
were opened and distributed. " Waste not a kernel," said 
Prescott ; " make every shot tell ; " and, directing those who 
had bayonets to be stationed at the points most likely to be 
assailed, he awaited in silence the approach of the enemy. 3 

A third time General Howe ordered his men to advance ; 
when some of his officers remonstrated, declaring that it would 
be butchery to expose them to so dreadful a charge. But 
their remonstrances were unheeded. To conquer or die was 
his fixed resolve. The general himself led the grenadiers and 
light infantry in front of the breastwork ; while Clinton, who 
had hastened to the rescue, 4 and Pigot, led the extreme left, 
to scale the redoubt. In a short time, the artillery was so 
posted as to enfilade the breastwork ; and its defenders were 
driven to the redoubt for protection. 5 Colonel Prescott, who 


1 Frothingham's Siege, 146, 147. Conduct of the War, 14 ; Thacher's 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 147. Jour. 27 ; Frothingham's Siege, 148. 

3 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 243 ; 6 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 245 j 
Frothingham's Siege, 148. Frothingham's Siege, 149. 

4 Stedman's Am. War, i. 127 j 


had seen every thing, was convinced that the redoubt must be chap„ 
carried. Yet he did not for a moment hesitate, but issued his ^_^, 
orders as coolly as ever. Most of his men had but one round 1775. 
left, and few more than three rounds ; and he ordered them 
all to reserve their fire until the British troops were within 
twenty yards. The enemy came on, but not with the zeal 
with which they had formerly advanced. Taught by experi- 
ence, they had stripped off their knapsacks, and many of them 
their coats, to be less encumbered ; and, exhausted in strength 
and depressed in spirits, it was only by the desperate exer- 
tions of their officers that they could be inspired with firmness 
for the struggle. As they drew near the works, the Ameri- 
cans fired ; and the volley was so deadly, that the columns 
wavered. Recovering in an instant, they again sprang for- 
ward ; and the redoubt was scaled. 1 

Nothing remained for Prescott but to retreat. His pow- 
der was exhausted ; and his men had only stones and the 
buts of their muskets as weapons of offence. The word was 
accordingly given ; and while some leaped the walls, others 
hewed their way through the enemy's ranks. Prescott himself 
was the last to leave ; and he escaped unharmed, " though his 
banyan and waistcoat were pierced in several places." 2 The 
chivalrous Warren, who up to this moment had fought in the 
ranks with self-sacrificing zeal, was reluctant to flee. A few 
rods from the redoubt, a ball pierced his head ; and he fell 
to the ground. His death was deep]y lamented at the time ; 
and the country felt it had lost one of its best and bravest 


The troops at the rail fence, who had been slightly reen- 

1 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 245- of April, 1776, the remains of Gener- 
248 ; Frothingham's Siege, 150. al Warren were disinterred from the 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 150. spot where they had been hastily bur- 

3 Impartial Hist, of the War, 213 ; ied, and a public funeral was celebrat- 
Sparks's Washington, hi. 512, note; ed with masonic honors. Gordon's 
Swett. in Life of Putnam, 250 ; Froth- Am. Rev. ii. ; Thacher's Jour. 45 ; 
ingham's Siege, 151, 171. After the Bradford, ii. 96, 97 ; Austin's Life of 
evacuation of Boston, or on the 8th Gerry, i. 86, note. 


chab. forced, fought for a time with desperate courage ; l but when 

^J^^, they saw that Prescott had retreated, they began to give 

1775. ground. Their retreat was covered by Putnam with his Con- 

Jun. 17. 

necticut troops, who " dared the utmost fury of the enemy in 
the rear of the wh<fle." 2 On reaching Bunker Hill, he ex- 
claimed, " Make a stand here ! We can stop them yet. In 
God's name, form, and give them one shot more ; " and, taking 
his own post near a field piece, he " seemed resolved to brave 
the foe alone." The veteran Pomeroy, with his shattered 
musket in his hand, seconded this appeal ; but the troops felt 
that it would be useless to rally. The slaughter on the brow 
of the hill was terrible ; and to remain longer was to expose 
themselves to certain destruction. Once more, therefore, the 
retreat was commenced ; and the whole body retired over the 
Neck amidst the shot from the enemy's ships. A solitary can- 
non was their only defence. 3 

At five in the afternoon, the British troops, with a parade 
of triumph, took possession of Bunker Hill, and lay on their 
arms during the night. General Jlowe was advised by Clin- 
ton to follow up his advantage by an attack upon Cambridge ; 
but he had seen service enough for one day, and contented 
himself with firing two field pieces upon the Americans, who 
retreated to Winter and Prospect Hills, and to the camp of 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 151. 5 many of them distinguished them- 

2 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 252. selves by their gallant behavior. The 

3 Impartial Hist, of the War, 211. soldiers generally showed great spirit 
Subsequent to the date of this battle, and resolution." It might be ob- 
there was considerable complaint of served, however, in extenuation of the 
the conduct of the officers ; and Gen- conduct of the persons referred to, 
eral "Washington, on reaching the that very little discipline had as yet 
camp, made a strict inquiry, and re- been introduced into the camp, and 
ported the result as follows, in a con- that the lack of subordination which 
fidential letter to the president of Con- prevailed must have embarrassed even 
gress : " Upon my arrival, and since, the best disposed, if it did not dis- 
some complaints have been preferred hearten them. Yet if the charge of 
against officers for cowardice in the cowardice properly attaches to any 
late action on Bunker's Hill. I have who served on this occasion, it must 
been sorry to find it an uncontradicted rest there ; for no apology should be 
fact that the principal failure of duty offered for such conduct. 

that day was in the officers, though 


General Ward. 1 Prescott, whom nothing could subdue, re- chap. 
paired at once to head quarters, and offered to retake Bunker ^^^ 
Hill, or perish in the attempt, if three regiments of fifteen hun- 1775. 
dred men, well equipped with ammunition and bayonets, were 
placed at his disposal ; but Ward very wisely decided that the 
condition of his army would not justify so bold a measure. 2 

Thus ended the battle of Bunker Hill. The loss of the 
Americans, in the different engagements, was one hundred and 
fifteen killed, three hundred and five wounded, and thirty cap- 
tured — a total of four hundred and fifty men. 3 The loss of 
the British was admitted in the official account to have been 
two hundred and twenty-six killed, and eight hundred and 
twenty-eight wounded — a total of ten hundred and fifty-four 
men ; but the Americans estimated their loss as high as fifteen 
hundred. 4 

1 Swett, in Life of Putnam, 254 ; 
Frothingham's Siege, 153. 

2 Swett, in Lite of Putnam, 256 ; 
Frothingham's Siege, 153. 

3 Impartial Hist, of the War, 211 ; 
Stedman's Am. War, i. 127 ; Thacher's 
Jour. 30 ; Heath's Mems. 20 ; N. H. 
Hist. Coll. ii. 144-147 ; Gordon's Am. 
Rev. i. 357 ; Marshall's Washington, 
ii. 131 ; Sparks's Washington, iii. 38; 
Bradford, i. 386 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. 
Eng. vi. 58 ; Swett, in Life of Put- 
nam, 257 ; Frothingham's Siege, 192, 

4 Impartial Hist, of the War, 211 ; 
Stedman's Am. War, i. 127 ; Bissett's 
Hist. Eng. i. 430; Heath's Mems. 
20; Thacher's Jour. 30; Essex Ga- 
zette for July 6 and Aug. 17, 1775 ; 
Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 355 ; Marshall's 
Washington, ii. 231; Sparks's Wash 
ington, iii, 36, 38 ; Lord Mahon's 
Hist. Eng. vi. 58 ; Bradford, i. 386 ; 
Swett, in Life of Putnam, 259 ; Froth- 
ingham's Siege, 194. The question 
has been raised, and discussed with 
some warmth, Who was the com- 
mander at Bunker Hill ? That Jo- 
seph Warren was not the commander 
is now generally admitted ; nor does 
he seem to have claimed or occupied 
any other position than that of a vol- 

unteer. The honor, therefore, lies be- 
tween Prescott and Putnam. But if 
it is borne in mind that each colony, 
at this time, had an establishment of 
its own, and that no commander-in- 
chief had been appointed by the Gen- 
eral Congress, it will be evident that 
General Ward, who acted under the 
authority of the Provincial Congress 
of Massachusetts alone, had no au- 
thority over Putnam, and, though he 
could advise with, could not direct, 
him. The intrenching party sent out 
by Ward was headed by Prescott; 
and the command of that officer seems 
to have been principally limited to the 
redoubt. Putnam seems to have taken 
upon himself the charge of affairs 
without the redoubt, and was active 
throughout the engagement wherever 
his services were needed. There was, 
therefore, no one officer who had the 
sole and exclusive command ; and not 
only are Prescott and Putnam entitled 
to equal credit, — the former for his 
fidelity in executing the orders of his 
superior, and the latter for his zealous 
and effective cooperation, — but all 
who served on that day, and who made 
such a noble and gallant stand, should 
be remembered with gratitude. 



chap. The immediate consequence of the battle of Bunker Hill 
_^^ was to establish a state of general hostility. The Americans, 
1775. though defeated, were in effect victorious ; ! and the courage 
they had displayed was such as caused even Washington to 
. declare that " the liberties of the country were safe." 2 The 
lack of subordination was a serious evil ; and so sensible were 
all of the necessity of remedying this evil, that the subject 
was freely discussed by the officers, and urged upon the atten- 
tion of the proper authorities. The position of the army was 
somewhat alarming. The firing from the British cannon, 
commenced on Saturday, had not ceased on Sunday at three 
in the afternoon. That night it was rumored the British 
would leave Boston, and march out through Roxbury. In 
such case, it was expected " a dreadful battle must ensue ; " 
and the wife of John Adams wrote, " Almighty God cover the 
heads of our countrymen, and be a shield to our dear friends." 3 
Gage, however, had no intention of removing his quarters ; 
Jun. 19. and, exasperated by his reverses, he issued a proclamation 
requiring all the inhabitants who had arms " immediately to 
surrender them at the court house," threatening that " all per- 
sons in whose possession any firearms might hereafter be 
found should be deemed enemies to his majesty's govern- 
ment." 4 The tories, to evince their loyalty, volunteered as 

Impartial Hist, of the War, 214. ingham's Siege, 157, .note. 
Comp. Lord Marion's Hist. Eng. vi. 3 Letters of Mrs. Adams ; N. A. 
58, and Webster's Bunker Hill Ad- Rev. for Oct., 1840, 369 ; Frothing- 
dress, 21. ham's Siege, 207. 

2 Webster's Address, in Froth- 4 Frothingham's Siege, 208. 



patrols ; and a company of forty-nine was established, each chap. 
night, to relieve the troops. 1 ^-J*^, 

The campaign had now opened ; and, as it was uncertain 1775. 
how soon hostilities might be renewed, it behooved both par- 
ties to fortify their positions as speedily as possible. Accord- 
ingly, General Howe, who had encamped on Bunker Hill, and 
who was promptly supplied with additional troops, commenced Jun. 17 
a breastwork on the north-western declivity of the hill, upon 
which, for several days, his men labored with diligence. 2 The 
Americans were equally active ; and General Putnam, who Jun. 18. 
had taken possession of Prospect Hill, marked out an in- 
trenchment, working with his own hands, to encourage his 
men; and one half of eight of the Massachusetts regiments Jun. 20 
were draughted daily to assist him. 3 By the last of the month jun. 30 
nearly four thousand men are said to have been concentrated 
here ; 4 both the eminences forming the hill were strongly for- 
tified, and connected by a rampart and fosse ; and the works 
were prosecuted with such vigor, that early in July they were July 3. 
" almost impregnable." 5 

The New Hampshire troops, on the night of the battle, oc- 
cupied Winter Hill ; and, being reenforced by Poor's regiment, 
intrenchments were thrown up of a size and strength exceed- 
ing those of any other position, which were held by about two 
thousand men, under General Folsom, until the arrival of 
Washington. 6 The head quarters at Cambridge were likewise 
strengthened ; and, from the redoubt near the college, a complete 
line of circumvallation extended from the Charles to the Mystic 
River. 7 The right wing, at Roxbury, was equally cared for ; 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 208. zette for June 29, 1775 ; Frothing- 

2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 17 ; ham's Siege, 211. 
Frothingham's Siege, 208. 6 Marshall's Washington, ii. 241 ; 

3 Heath's Memoirs, 22 ; Sparks's Sparks's Washington, iii. 17 ; Froth- 
Washington, iii. 17, 18; Frothing- ingham's Siege, 211. General Fol- 
ham's Siege, 210, 211. som arrived at the camp on Tuesday, 

4 Frothingham's Siege, 211. Mar- June 20. Letter in N. H. Hist Coll. 
shall, Life of Washington, ii. 241, says ii. 146. 

Putnam had under him but 1000 men. 7 Heath's Memoirs, 22 ; Frothing- 

5 Heath's Mems. 22; Essex Ga- ham's Siege, 211, 217. 



CHAP, and, under the direction of General Thomas, who was at the 
^J^, head of two of the Connecticut and nine of the Massachusetts 
1775. regiments, — in all, between four and five thousand men, — a 
fort was built upon the hill about two hundred yards west- 
ward of the meeting house ; an intrenchment at the Dudley 
House extended to the hill east of the meeting house ; a breast- 
work was thrown up across the main street, and another on 
the Dorchester road near the burial ground ; and redoubts and 
breastworks were planted at other points. 1 The first heavy 
Jun.24. cannon were mounted here a week after the battle ; and, a 
week later, shot were thrown from them into Boston. 2 

The Provincial Congress having appealed to the other 
colonies for additional troops, reinforcements for the army 
poured in daily, 'and at least one company of Stockbridge 
Indians repaired to the camp for service. 3 The regiments 
from Connecticut and Rhode Island were placed under Gen- 
eral Ward ; the troops were all in high spirits ; and they 
" longed to speak again " with his majesty's forces. 4 " I wish," 
wrote Greene, " we could sell them another hill at the same 
price ; " 5 and this wish was cherished by all. Fears had, in- 
deed, been expressed by Congress that, " as soon as the enemy 
should have recovered a little strength from their amazing 
fatigues, and their surprising losses should have been made up 
by the arrival of new troops, which were shortly expected, 
they would direct all their force to some one point, and make 
the utmost efforts to force the American lines, destroy their 
magazines, and thereby strike a general terror and amazement 

1 Essex Gazette for June 29, 177o[; E. Gerry, Sept. 26, 1775, in Austin's 
Frothingham's Siege, 2 12, 2 17. The Life of Gerry, i. 1 14. 

Dudley House, it is said, stood on the 3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 387-389 ; Lord 

site of the present Universalist meet- Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 35 ; Frothing- 

ing house. ham's Siege, 212, 213. For a sketch 

2 Heath's Memoirs, 23 ; Thacher's of the treaty with the # Penobscot tribe, 
Jour. 33; Frothingham's Siege, 212. see Jour. Prov. Cong*. 369-371. 
The works at Roxbury are said to 4 Frothingham's Siege, 209, 210. 
have been planned by "the ingenuity 5 Frothingham's Siege, 210. 

of Knox and Waters." S. Adams to 


into the hearts of the inhabitants of the whole country." i chap. 
But, whatever apprehensions were felt on this score, few were ^J^, 
intimidated ; and though an irregular warfare was kept up for 1775. 
more than two weeks, and shots and shells were discharged 
by the British upon the American camp, and alarms of sallies 
were raised, no serious engagement occurred ; and these prel- 
udes served simply to occupy the attention of the Americans, 
and to incite them to vigilance to prevent a surprise. 2 

The arrival of Washington was awaited with anxiety. The 
Congress, as a mark of respect to his person, ordered a com- 
mittee to repair to Springfield to escort him to head quarters ; 
and a cavalcade of citizens and a troop of light horse accom- 
panied him on his entry. At Watertown, he was welcomed July 2. 
in a congratulatory address, to which he replied with his 
accustomed dignity ; and, having taken up his quarters at the 
house of the president of the college, which had been fitted 
up for his reception, he entered upon his duties as commander- 
in-chief. 3 

The first care of his excellency, immediately upon his arri- 
val, was to visit the American posts, and, as soon as the 
weather permitted, reconnoitre the enemy's works. The troops 
subject to his command consisted of " a mixed multitude of 
people, under very little discipline, order, or government ; " 
and their supply of powder, when examined, proved so mea- 
gre, that there was " hardly enough in the camp for nine car- 
tridges to a man." The difficulty of maintaining, with such 
materials, a line of posts so extensive and important, would 
have disheartened a general of inferior abilities. But, fertile 
in expedients, and possessing the confidence of all his subor- 
dinates, Washington devoted himself earnestly to the remod- 
elling of his army, and in a very short time was enabled to 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 389 ; Froth- Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 365, 366 ; 
ingham's Siege, 210. Thacher's Jour. 31 ; Marshall's Wash- 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 212, 213. ington, ii. 239; Sparks's Washington, 

3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 398-400, 438, iii. 14, 484-486 ; Frothingham's Siege, 
439 ; Essex Gazette for July 6, 1775 ; 2 14, 215. 


chap, infuse into every branch of the military service a portion of 
^^ his own resolute spirit, so that the system of discipline and 
1775. order which was established proved of infinite value to the 
American cause. 1 

The forces of the British, including seamen, probably con- 
sisted of from nine to ten thousand men ; 2 and as it was con- 
ceived that an American army of twenty-two thousand would 
be necessary to compete with them successfully, and but six- 
teen thousand had been enrolled, 3 of whom but fourteen thou- 
Juiy9. sand five hundred were fit for duty, the council of war de- 
cided in favor of fresh levies ; and the troops already raised 
were arranged in three divisions, each comprising two bri- 
gades — the right wing, posted at Roxbury, being placed under 
General Ward ; the left wing, towards Charlestown, under 
General Lee ; and the centre under General Putnam, with 
Washington as chief, whose head quarters were at Cambridge. 4 
The appearance of the camp was remarkably grotesque. 
The lodgings of the soldiers were " as different in their form 
as the owners in their dress ; " and every tent was " a por- 
traiture of the temper and taste " of the occupants. " Some," 
writes one, " were made of boards, and some of sailcloth ; 
some partly of the one, and partly of the other. Again, others 
are made of stone and turf, brick or brush. Some are 
thrown up in a hurry ; others curiously wrought with doors 
and windows, done with wreaths and withes in the manner 
of a basket. Some are your proper tents and marquees, look- 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 368 ; Ram- the losses then sustained. 

say's Am. Rev. i. 222 ; Bradford, ii. 3 Sparks's Washington, iii. 27, 39. 

19; Sparks's Washington, iii. 17,39; 4 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 162; Gor- 

Frothingham's Siege, 218. don's Am. Rev. i. 367 ; Sparks's 

2 Washington, to his brother, Julv Washington, iii. 15, 19, 27, 33, 54, 
27, 1775, says 12,000 ; the Jour, of the 488 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 223, 224 ; 
Prov. Cong. 389, says 10,000; and Bradford, ii.' 17, 18; Frothingham's 
Marshall, Life of Washington, ii. Siege, 219, 220. Of the 14,500 troops 
248, says 8000. The estimate in the named in the text, 9000, it is said, 
text is probably correct, or nearly so, belonged to Massachusetts, and the 
as there were but about 10,000 be- remaining 5500 were raised by the 
fore the battle of Bunker Hill, and other New England colonies. 

that number was reduced 1000 by 


ing like the regular camp of the enemy. In these are the chap. 
Ehode Islanders, who are furnished with tent equipage, and ^J^, 
every thing in the most exact English style." " However," 1775 
he adds, " I think this great variety is rather a beauty than a 
blemish in the army." * 

The country around Boston has long been famed for its 
charming scenery ; and the amphitheatre of hills which encir- 
cles the peninsula affords, from a great number of points, mag- 
nificent views of the metropolis, and of the islands which gem 
the waters in front, while the more lofty eminences completely 
overlook the city, and command it from every quarter. The 
changes which have been made within the last fifty years have 
materially altered the aspect of the town ; and its area has 
been so enlarged by filling in vast tracts once covered with 
water, and so large a portion of its surface is now covered 
with buildings, that it is difficult to conceive how it must have 
appeared when it was a village of but a few thousand inhab- 
itants, in no part densely settled, and with here and there 
extensive openings either entirely unoccupied or improved as 
pastures. 2 The neighboring towns have likewise changed, 
and, relatively, perhaps to as great an extent as the metrop- 
olis itself. Roxbury, Brookline, Cambridge, and Charlestown, 
together, contain at least three times the number of inhabit- 
ants that Boston did at the opening of the revolution. 3 But 
beyond these towns the aspect of nature is less altered ; and 
one who views from the dome of the State House the splendid 
panorama spread before the eye can form some idea of the 
appearance of the landscape three fourths of a century ago. 
The same hills are there, crowned with trees. The same rocks 
are there, hoary with lichens. And occasionally a majestic 

1 Letter of Rev. William Emerson, opening of the revolution, was about 
m Sparks's Washington, in. 491,492; 20,000; the population of the cities 
Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 65 ; and towns named in the text, by the 
Frothingham's Siege, 222. census of 1855, was not far from 

2 Frothingham's Siege, 221. 60,000. 

3 The population of Boston, at the 


chap, elm or a decaying buttonwood marks the site of some old 
^^_^ mansion, carefully protected from the ravages of time, and 
1775. serving as a link to connect the present with the eventful 

It must have been, to our fathers, a painful thought, that the 
lands which they had redeemed and improved for tillage, cov- 
ered with orchards, cornfields, and grass, and upon the culture 
of which they had expended their toil as well as their treas- 
ure, were to be ploughed by the cannon of the enemy, and 
converted for a season into a desolate waste. But, with 
whatever regrets they submitted to the sacrifice, not a mur- 
mur escaped them ; and he was accounted the best patriot 
who submitted most cheerfully, and yielded his property at 
the call of his country. Nor should the generous spirit which 
animated them be forgotten by their descendants ; and may 
they be found ready, in the hour of need, to follow the exam- 
ple of their illustrious sires. 

An occasional cannonade from Boston and Roxbury, 1 the 
capture of stragglers from the enemy's camp, 2 and the arrange- 
ment of the army into its several divisions constituted the 
incidents of the siege in July. The vigilance of Washington 
was constantly exercised to strengthen his own position, con- 
fine the enemy closely to their quarters, and cut off the sup- 
plies they were daily expecting. Partly for the latter purpose, 
and partly as a precaution against surprise, whaleboats were 
provided by the legislature of Massachusetts to transport flour 
to the camp, and were kept on the watch to give early notice 
of movements by water ; 3 and express horses, ready saddled, 
were stationed" at several posts, to bring speedy intelligence of 
movements by land. 4 The Provincial Congress, then in ses- 
sion, sanctioned by the authority of the Congress at Phila- 

1 Heath's Memoirs, 22 ; Frothing- 3 Marshall's Washington, ii. 249 ; 
ham's Siege, 224-227. Bradford, ii. 44 ; Frothingham's Siege, 

2 Heath's Mems. 24; Force's Am. 223. 

Archives, ii. 1650; Frothingham's 4 Jour. Prov. Cong. 482 ; Marshall's 
Siege, 225. Washington, ii. 249. 


delphia, had previously arranged for the settlement of the chap. 
government of the province by calling an assembly, 1 provided ^J^^ 
guards for the sea coast by establishing companies in the 1775. 
maritime counties, 2 appointed surveyors for the army, 3 and 
ordered an account to be taken of the powder in store. 4 

A correspondence between Generals Lee and Burgoyne, 
which occurred about this time, attracted much attention ; July 8. 
and an interview was proposed by the latter, " to induce such 
explanations as might tend in their consequences to peace ; " 
but as it was apprehended that such an interview " might cre- 
ate those jealousies and suspicions so natural in a people 
struggling in the dearest of all causes, — that of their liberty, 
property, wives, children, and future generations," — at the 
suggestion of the Congress, and with the approval of the 
officers, it was wisely declined. 5 

Well would it have been had all acted as wisely as Lee. 
But, unfortunately, one in whom great confidence had been 
placed, and who had formerly been active in the cause of lib- 
erty, 6 was, at a later date, suspected of holding a treasonable Oct.. 
correspondence with the enemy ; and, after passing the ordeal 

1 Jour. Prov. Cong. 359, 454 ; Im- erection of powder mills, at the ex- 
partial Hist, of the War, 206 ; Bis- pense of the province, at Stoughton 
sett's Hist. Eng. i. 427 ; Bradford, ii. and Andover ; and establishments for 
41. This assembly, it should be ob- the manufacture of firearms and can- 
served, was a distinct body from the non were encouraged in several places. 
Provincial Congress, and Avas, in fact, Bradford, ii. 44, 45. 

the legislature of the province. 5 Jour. Prov. Cong. 481-483; Es- 

2 Jour. Prov. Cong. 422, 423, 425, sex Gazette for July 13, 21, 28, and 
433; Bradford, ii. 49. At Plymouth, Aug. 3, 1775; Sparks's Washington, 
a company was ordered out for the iii. 498-500 ; Niles's Principles and 
defence of that town, and of the Gur- Acts of the Rev. 206-210; Froth- 
net at the entrance of the harbor. At ingham's Siege, 223, 224. 
Weymouth, Hingham, Braintree, and 6 Dr. Benjamin Church. In Dra- 
Cohasset, companies were likewise per's Gazette for Sept. 21, 1775, ap- 
kept in service for several months ; peared the following notice, which 
and at Marblehead, Salem, and probably alludes to this affair : " We 
Gloucester, a portion of the citizens, hear a certain person of weight among 
at their own request, were employed the rebels hath offered to return to 
in military service. See the rolls, at his allegiance, on condition of being 
the State House. pardoned and provided for ; what en- 

3 Jour. Prov. Cong. 424, 449. couragement he has received remains 

4 Jour. Prov. Cong. 428-430. Pro- a secret." 
visions were likewise made for the 


chap, of the General Court, before which he was summoned, he 
was sentenced by the Continental Congress, to which his case 
was referred, to be imprisoned in Connecticut, and remained 
in confinement until the ensuing spring, when he was released 
on the ground of declining health, and afterwards obtained 

1778. permission to take passage in a brigantine bound to Marti- 

Jan. 9. 

nique ; but the vessel in which he sailed was never again heard 
from, and he is supposed to have perished at sea. 1 

It would be tedious to enumerate the incidents of the siege 
with the minuteness of detail which the newspapers afford. 
The army in Boston was speedily strengthened by the arrival 

July 29. of troops and provisions; 2 and, towards the last of July, a 
bomb battery was planted on Bunker Hill, the guard on 
Charlestown Neck was advanced farther into the country, and 
an abatis was thrown up for its protection, formed of trees 
felled for the purpose. 3 Yet the inhabitants of the beleaguered 
town, and even the soldiers, owing to the absence of fresh pro- 
visions and the oppressive heat of the summer weather, were 
" very sickly and much dejected ; " and General Gage, tired 
of the presence of so many who acted as spies upon his move- 
ments, and succeeded, in spite of his vigilance, in conveying 

July 24. intelligence without the lines, gave orders for all who were 
disposed to depart by water to return their names, and they 
should have liberty to leave. 4 The principal encouragements 

1 On the affair of Church, see Trum- cause, the council were . not satisfied 

bull, MS. Letter Book B., 221; with his defence, nor was the pure- 

Thacher's Jour. 34 ; 1 M. H. Coll. i. minded Washington fully persuaded 

84-94 ; Force's Am. Archives ; Al- of the honesty of his intentions, 
mon's Remembrancer, ii. 156 ; Boston 2 Heath's Mems. 24. TheAssem- 

Gazette for Jan. 8, 1776; Sparks's bly of Connecticut voted, on the 1st 

Washington, iii. 115, 502-506; Reed's of July, to raise two regiments, of 700 

Reed, i. 123 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. men each, to augment the army, and 

410, and ii. 303 ; Bradford, ii. 76, 77 ; marching orders were sent to them 

Frothingham's Siege, 258-260. It on the 25th. 

is difficult to clear the doctor of all 3 Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 

blame in this matter; and although 5, 10; Frothingham's Siege, 229. 
he personally repudiated the charge 4 Sparks's Washington, iii. 54 ; 

of a traitorous design, and no ex- Frothingham's Siege, 229, 237. In 

pressions were found in his letter de- the Essex Gazette for Aug. 10, 1775, 

cidedly prejudicial to his country's the number of residents of Boston is 


received by his forces, for nearly a month, consisted in the chap. 
success of a plundering expedition in the neighborhood of ^^ 
New London, 1 and the capture of an American vessel laden 1775. 
with stores ; and " with these trophies of victory," on their 
arrival in Boston, " the bells were set to music — to the no 
small joy and comfort of the poor, half-starved tories." 2 

The Americans, in the mean time, after calling upon God July 20. 
for assistance in their trials, 3 forwarded with all diligence July 24. 
their works on Winter Hill, 4 and performed gallant exploits 
in the harbor and at Roxbury. 5 The rifle companies from 
the south had arrived — stout, hardy men, dressed in their 
white shirts and round hats, and skilled as marksmen ; 6 but 
the stock of powder in the camp was exceedingly small, and 
Washington pressed upon Congress the necessity of supplies. 7 
Nor was he without suspicion that a surprise was intended 
upon his camp ; for detachments of the enemy rowed about 
the harbor daily, or paraded with their light horse on Charles- 
town Common, where their brilliant appearance and scarlet 
uniforms contrasted strongly with the homely garb and simple 
frocks of the continentals. Being plentifully supplied with 
powder, likewise, they diverted themselves with cannonading 
daily the American lines ; but, except when the soldiers care- 
lessly exposed themselves, very little damage was done, and 
few were killed. 8 

set clown at 6573 ; and the number tinental fast ever observed since the 

of troops at 13,600, including their settlement of the colonies." See also 

dependants, women, and children. Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 

1 Boston Gazette for Aug. 14, 1775 ; 55. 

Essex Gazette for Aug. 24, 1775 ; 4 Frothingham's Siege, 228. 
Almon's Remembrancer, ii. 41,42; 5 Frothingham's Siege, 230-232. 
Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 31; 6 Essex Gazette for Aug. 13, 1775;: 

Caulkins's Hist. New London, 517; Boston Gazette for Aug. 14, 1775; 

Frothingham's Siege, 236. Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 369 ; Thacher's 

2 Boston Gazette for Aug. 14, 1775 : Jour. 33 ; Frothingham's Siege, 227. 
Frothingham's Siege, 236. One of these companies arrived July 

3 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 109, 110 ; 25, and the rest Aug. 5 to 7. 
Essex Gazette for June 29, 1775 ; 7 Frothingham's Siege, 231. 
Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 199; Gordon's 8 Impartial Hist, of the War, 215; 
Am. Rev. i. 371, 372; Frothingham's Sparks's Washington, hi. 66; Froth- 
Siege, 226. "This," says Thacher, ingham's Siege, 231. The uniforms 
Jour. 32, " is the first general or con- of the Americans, says a letter of July 

VOL. III. 4 



A more important movement was the occupation of Ploughed 
Hill, now Mount Benedict, in front of Winter Hill, and within 
1775. point blank shot of Bunker Hill. The rumor, which had been 
circulating for weeks, that the British intended to storm the 
American intrenchments, determined Washington to occupy 
this hill ; and, as it was suspected that this step would bring 
on an engagement, the occasion was one of unusual interest. 

Aug.26. A fatigue party of twelve hundred men, and a guard of twen- 
ty-four hundred, under General Sullivan, were detailed for 
this service, and worked so diligently during the night, that 
in the morning the works were sufficiently strong to afford 
some protection against the enemy's cannon. At an early 

Aug.27. hour the British opened their batteries, but the fire was not 
returned ; and, though they continued for several days to 
bombard the works, they did not venture upon any open 

.•Sep. 10. attack ; and after a time their firing ceased. 1 

Before this date, an incident had occurred which reflected 
little credit on Gage or his followers. This was the felling, in 
Boston, of Liberty Tree, famous in the annals preceding the 
revolution, and which was a sacred relic in the eyes of the 
people. Armed with axes, the " troops and the tories " at- 
tacked it with fury ; and, " after a long spell of laughing and 
grinning, sweating, swearing, and foaming with diabolical 
malice," they succeeded in bringing its tufted honors to the 
ground — but not without the loss of one of their number, 
perched on the topmost limb, who was crushed by his precip- 
itate fall to the ground. Yet, though Liberty Tree had fallen, 
the " grand American tree of liberty, planted in the centre of 
k the .United Colonies of North America," remained unharmed, 

19, "areaiade of brown Holland and Gazette for Aug. 31, 1775; Force's 
Osnaburgs, something like a shirt, Am. Archives, ii. 1755 ; Almon's Re- 
double caped over the shoulder, in membrancer, ii. 179, 180 ; Sparks's 
imitation of the Indians ; and on the Washington, iii. 71, 73, 84; Gordon's 
breast, in capital letters, is their mot- Am. Rev. i. 405 ; Frothingham's 
to, ' Liberty or death.' " Siege, 233, 234. 

Heath's Mems. 26, 27; Essex 


and " flourished with unrivalled, increasing beauty, bidding chap. 
fair, in a short time, to afford under its wide-spreading ^^ 
branches a safe and happy retreat for all the Sons of Liberty, 1775. 
however numerous and dispersed." r 

The only other incident of importance which occurred at 
this time was a correspondence between Washington and 
Gage relative to the treatment of American prisoners. A 
number had been taken at the battle of Bunker Hill ; and 
officers and soldiers, without distinction, had been thrust into 
the common jail, and treated as felons. Washington protest- 
ed against the injustice of this course, and hinted that, if it Aug.lL 
was persisted in, he should be compelled to retaliate ; but 
Gage, in reply, with his accustomed insolence, declared that Aug.13. 
" Britons,, ever preeminent in mercy, had outgone common 
examples, and overlooked the criminal in the captive. " 
" Upon these principles," he added, " your prisoners, whose 
lives, by the laws of the land, are destined to the cord, have 
hitherto been treated with care and kindness, and more com- 
fortably lodged than the king's troops in the hospitals — indis- 
criminately, it is true, for I acknowledge no rank that is not 
derived from the king." To this haughty message Washing- 
ton returned a dignified reply, asserting that he could conceive 
of no more honorable source of rank " than that which flows 
from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people — the 
purest source and original fountain of all power ; " and that, 
so far from making this " a plea for cruelty, a mind of true 
magnanimity and enlarged ideas would comprehend and re- 
spect it." But the mind of Gage was too obtuse to be affected 
by such reasoning ; and the correspondence with Sir William 
Howe, a few days later, led to a suspension of that intercourse Aug.22. 
between the camps which had been hitherto permitted. 2 

1 Essex Gazette for Aug. 31 and 500,501; Almon's Remembrancer, i. 
Sept. 1 7, 1775 ; Bradford, ii. 62 ; 179, ii. 60 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 404 ; 
Frothingham's Siege, 237, 238. Niles's Principles and Acts of the Rev. 

2 Essex Gazette for Oct. 12, 1775 ; 266, 267 ; Bradford, ii. 54-59 ; Froth- 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 59, 65-68, ingham's Siege, 240-242. 


chap. The month of September passed quietly, upon the whole. 

^^X~ Slight skirmishes, indeed, occurred between the American rifle- 

1775. men and the British regulars ; additional works were thrown 
Sep. 10. 

up in Roxbury ; and a detachment of a thousand men, under 

Colonel Benedict Arnold, was sent to Quebec, to cooperate 
with General Schuyler in following up, or rendering availa- 
ble, the capture of Ticonderoga, which occurred earlier in 

Sep. li. the season. 1 A council of war was likewise held relative to 
the expediency of an attack* upon Boston by land and by 
water, in cooperation with an attempt upon their lines at Rox- 
bury ; but it was decided to be inexpedient. 2 Yet, reluctant 
to relinquish the project, and convinced that, should the British 
army be considerably strengthened, the " consequences to 
America would be dreadful," the secretary of Washington, 
Joseph Reed, who may be supposed to have expressed the 
views of his superior, wrote that the army and navy must, at 
all events, be " destroyed this winter ; " and Washington him- 

Sep. 21. self, in an elaborate letter to the General Congress, described 
his situation as " inexpressibly distressing," since the time for 
which the troops had been enlisted was rapidly expiring, the 
military chest was totally exhausted, and many of the soldiers 
were in a "state not far from mutiny, upon the deduction 
from their stated allowance." 3 

The situation of the British troops had somewhat improved ; 
and a " snow," from Cork, laden with claret, pork, and butter, 
which arrived, bringing advices of " great armaments fitting 
out in England," which might be expected in the course of the 
next month, revived the drooping spirits of the army. Before 
the month closed, too, fuel was more abundant ; " provisions 
for man and beast " were daily coming in ; and, instead of 

1 Heath's Memoirs, 27 ; Sparks's H. Coll. ii. 227-247 ; Frothingham's 

Washington, iii. 63, 85, 86-91, 102, Siege, 243. 

128 ; Sparks's Life of Gouverneur 2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 80, 82, 

Morris, i. 53-61 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. note ; Marshall's Washington, ii. 251. 

i. 226 et seq. ; Bradford, ii. 72, 73; 3 Sparks's Washington, iii. 99, 104; 

Maine Hist. Colls, i. 341-416 ; 2 M. Frothingham's Siege, 244, 245 


being a " starved and deserted town," as had been gloomily chap. 
anticipated, " Boston," it was said, " will be this winter the ^^ 
emporium of America for plenty and pleasure." The arrange- 1775. 
ments for " pleasure," indeed, seem to have been dwelt upon 
with peculiar satisfaction ; and, exclaiming with the poet, — 

" "What need of piping for the songs and sherry, 
When our own miseries can make us merry," 

it was exultingly announced in the papers that " hivernal con- 
certs " would be given, and that the " playhouse " in Faneuil 
Hall would " shew away with the tragedy of Zara, on Tues- 
day, the 17th of October, and continue to perform on those 
days weekly." * 

Preparations for quartering the troops in the houses of the 
inhabitants were now diligently prosecuted ; and for this pur- 
pose a number of buildings near the Hay Market, at the south 
end, were pulled down, and the furniture was removed from 
other buildings. 2 In the midst of these movements. Gage was 
recalled, and General Howe was appointed to succeed him. 
The reverses of the seventeenth of June, attributed in England 
to the mismanagement of the former, though not openly alleged 
as the reason, were doubtless the cause of his recall ; and 
though fulsome addresses were presented to his excellency, 

upon his departure, bv the Council and the tories, the address Oct. 6 
F . J to 10. 

of the inhabitants was remarkably guarded, and the rejoicing 

among the Americans was hearty and general. 3 

1 Thacher's Jour. 39 ; Draper's Ga- Frothingham's Siege, 247-249. " It 
zette for Sept. 21 and 28, 1775 ; Es- was the bane of England," says Lord 
sex Gazette for Sept. 28, 1775 ; Froth- Mahon, Hist. Eng. vi. 53, " not mere- 
ingham's Siege, 239. ly on this occasion, but throughout 

2 Essex Gazette for Sept. 21, 1775; the whole early part of this war, to 
Frothingham's Siege, 247, 252. have for chiefs men brave, indeed, and 

3 Almon's Remembrancer, ii. 56- honorable, skilled in the details of the 
59: Essex Gazette for Oct. 5, 1775 ; service, and zealous for Old England 
Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 411; Thacher's and King George, but in genius fitted 
Jour. 34 ; Sparks's Washington, hi. only for a second place, not gifted by 
511, 512; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. nature with that energy and firmness 
vi. 67 j N. A. Rev. for Oct. 1838, 368 ; essential for a chief command." 


The appointment of General Howe was welcomed by the 
British with great enthusiasm. " Even the blunders of Bunker 

1775. Hill were forgotten, so happy were most people at the change." 1 
But, though superior in abilities to Gage, and much more 
beloved by his troops, the new commander-in-chief entered 
upon his duties at a critical juncture ; and the reverses which 
the British arms had sustained impressed him with greater 
respect for the prowess of the provincials, who were no longer 
branded as a " despicable rabble," but who were feared for 
their resolute and unflinching bravery. Hence, in his early 

Oct. 9. despatches to England, the general very frankly confessed to 
Lord Dartmouth that " the opening of the campaign from this 
quarter would be attended with great hazard, as well from the 
strength of the country as from the intrenched position the 
rebels had taken." The prospect of success, indeed, was, in 
his view, quite doubtful ; and, under this impression, he did not 
hesitate to recommend an entire evacuation of Boston. At 
the south, a different spirit prevailed. There the tories were 
more numerous ; the burden of oppressive legislation had been 
less seriously felt ; and the enthusiasm of the people had not 
reached so high as to induce an entire renunciation of alle- 
giance to England. 2 

So long, however, as he was required to remain in Massa- 
chusetts, General Howe devoted himself zealously to the im- 
provement of his defences and the quartering of his army. 
The principal works in progress at this time were the fort on 
Bunker Hill, where Clinton was posted, and the fortifications 
on Boston Neck ; 3 and as a reenforcement of five battalions, 
of two thousand men, was expected from Ireland, with these 
he proposed to " distress the rebels by incursions along the 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 251. and made these middle ones the seat 

2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 114, of war ? The answer is easy: New 
note, 127, note ; Frothingham's Siege, England is not infested with tories, 
250. " Why," asks Paine, in Crisis, and we are." 

No. 1, — " why is it that the enemy 3 Frothingham's Siege, 251. 
hath left the New England provinces, 


coast." 1 Beyond this, he was satisfied, but little could be chap. 
accomplished. His men would " shortly have full employment ^J^, 
in preparing quarters for the winter ; " and, as they had 1775. 
already sufficiently felt the weight of the American arms, they 
had no ambition to provoke a further trial of their strength. 
The quartering of the troops was accordingly hastened ; the Oct. 27. 
Old South Church was cleared out for a riding school ; an 
opening was made across the Neck from water to water ; 
works were erected to check incursions from Roxbury ; and 
redoubts were thrown up on the eminences on the Common. 2 
With a view, also, to intimidate the patriots of Boston, who 
were struggling to escape to their brethren in the country, 
three proclamations were issued — the first of which threat- Oct. 28. 
ened with military execution, and the seizure of their goods 
and effects as traitors, any who were detected in attempting to 
leave the town without a written permission ; the second pro- 
hibited, under the penalty of imprisonment and the forfeiture 
of the sum discovered, those to whom passes were given from 
carrying away more than five pounds in specie ; and the third 
recommended an association of the loyalists into regular com- 
panies, to be employed within the precincts of the town " to 
preserve order and good government." 3 

1 Sparks's Washington, iii. 134 ; clearing every thing away, a beautiful, 
Frothingham's Siege, 250. " The carved pew, with rich furniture, for- 
enemy," says Washington, " expect a merly belonging to a deceased gentle- 
considerable reenforcement this win- man in high estimation, was taken 
ter, and, from all accounts, are garri- down, and carried to Mr. John Amo- 
soning Gibraltar and other places with ry's house, by the order of an officer, 
foreign troops, in order to bring the who applied the carved work to the 
former garrison to America." erection of a hogsty. Had the meet- 

2 Newell's Jour, in 4 M. H. Coll. ing house and its contents been hon- 
i. 269 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 413; ored with episcopal consecration, these 
Frothingham's Siege, 252. On the proceedings would be deemed by mul- 
occupancy of the Old South Gordon titudes profane and sacrilegious." 
observes, "It is said, and believed, 3 Boston Gazette for Nov. 6, 1775 
that an offer was made of building a Almon's Remembrancer, ii. 191 ; 
complete riding school for less money Sparks's Washington, iii. 140, and 
than it would cost to remove the pews note ; Thacher's Jour. 35 ; Frothing- 
and the side galleries, and to make a ham's Siege, 252, 253. 

proper flooring for the horses. In 


The British ships of war anchored in the harbor consisted 
of the Boyne, of sixty-four guns, which lay near the western 

1775. end of Spectacle Island ; the Preston, of fifty guns, which was 
' moored for the winter at the eastern end of the town, between 
Long Wharf and Hancock's Wharf; the Scarborough, of 
twenty guns, and a sloop, of sixteen guns, moored a short dis- 
tance southward of the Preston ; and the Mercury, which was 
stationed upon Charles River, at the north-western side of the 

Oct. 4. town. 1 A small fleet, under Captain Mo watt, had previously 
sailed to the eastward, and was afterwards engaged in the 

Oct. 16. destruction of Falmouth, now Portland, a seaboard town in 
Maine. 2 The troops under Clinton, at Bunker Hill, consisted 
of about one thousand men ; and these, with the troops quar- 
tered in Boston, and the marines and sailors, made in all an 
army of some ten thousand men — the whole force of the 
British now in Massachusetts. 3 The intrenchments on Bunker 
Hill, as well as those in Boston, were of considerable strength 
— so much so that even Washington was constrained to say 
it would be " almost impossible to force their lines." " With- 
out great slaughter on our side," he adds, " or cowardice on 
theirs, it is absolutely so. We therefore can do no more than 
keep them besieged, which they are, to all intents and pur- 
poses, as closely as any troops upon earth can be who have an 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 255, note, ton." A letter published in Almon's 

2 Trumbull's MS. Letter Book B, Remembrancer, ii. 230, says, "General 
208 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 412 ; Al- Howe has barely 6000 effective men 
mon's Remembrancer, ii. 124, 125 ; in Boston ; " but another, in ibid. iii. 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 129, 130 ; 109, says he had " 7575 effective men, 
Marshall's Washington, ii. 256 ; Brad- exclusive of the staff; so that, with 
ford, ii. 63 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. the marines and sailors, he might be 
vi. 74 ; Willis's Hist. Portland, Part considered as 10,000 strong." Lord 
H. 153; Williamson's Maine, ii. 422- Barrington, however, in the House 
434 ; Frothingham's Siege, 253. of Commons, reported the number of 

3 Gordon's Am. Rev. ; Debates in men in Boston on the 19th of July, 
Pari, for 1775, iii. 81 ; Sparks's Wash- exclusive of the three regiments going 
ington, iii. 126. " It is proposed," over to join them, as 8850 ; and as 
says Washington, " to keep from 500 these three regiments had now ar- 
to 1000 men on Bunker's Hill all rived, the number was doubtless not 
winter, who are to be relieved once a far from 10,000. 

week j the rest to be drawn into Bos- 


opening to the sea." The advanced works of the two armies chap. 
were within musket shot of each other ; and a daily cannon- ^^ 
ade was kept up by the British on the American lines, to 1770. 
which they were compelled to submit for the want of pow- 
der, though occasionally retaliating by " giving them a shot 
now and then." x 

The position of the American forces was not very flattering ; 
and during this month the energies of Washington were prin- 
cipally directed to the reorganization of the army, which sadly 
needed attention, and to preparations for the winter. Rox- 
bury, once a prosperous and flourishing village, inhabited by 
an intelligent and industrious yeomanry, had suffered severely 
from the cannon of the enemy, and was now nearly deserted. Oct. 20. 
The main street, formerly crowded with people, was occupied 
only by a picket guard. Some houses had been burned, others 
had been pulled down, and many were empty, with their win- 
dows taken out, and the walls filled with shot holes. The 
fortifications, however, were in excellent condition, and ex- 
tended across the town in a nearly unbroken line from Dor- • 
Chester to Brookline. 2 Charlestown was in ruins, and was 
occupied by the enemy. The head quarters at Cambridge, 
being sheltered, had suffered but little. The operations of 
the war had interrupted for the time being the progress of 
education at the college ; the students had returned to their 
homes, and the college buildings were occupied by the sol- 
diery. 3 

In the fitting out of a naval armament, — a matter of the 
greatest interest and importance, — some progress had been 
made ; and the few vessels chartered for service had behaved 
with gallantry in several engagements. So early as June, the Jun. 12. 

1 Sparks's Washington, iii. 28, 122, 2 Thacher's Jour. 34; Belknap's 
128 ; Frothingham's Siege, 255. " The Lett, in Life of Belknap, 92 ; Lett, to 
world," wrote Franklin to Dr. Priest- the Earl of Dartmouth, in Almon's Re- 
ley, Jan. 27, 1777, in Works, viii. 198, membrancer, iii. 92; Frothingham's 
" wondered that we so seldom fired a Siege, 254. 
cannon. Why, we could not afford it." 3 Thacher's Jour. 32. 


chap. Rhode Island Assembly authorized two vessels to be fitted out 
» - ^I w at the expense of the colony, for the " protection of its trade," 
1775. which were cruising before July ; : and, on the first day of the 
Juiyi. last-named month, a similar order was passed by the Connec- 
Sept. 2. ticut Assembly. 2 It was in September, however, that the first 
commission was issued by Washington, under his general 
authority as commander-in-chief, to Nicholas Broughton, a cit- 
izen of Marblehead, who was addressed as " captain in the 
army of the United Colonies of North America," and directed 
to " take the command of a detachment of said army, and 
proceed on board the schooner Hannah, at Beverly." 3 In 
October other commissions were issued ; and, as the impor- 
tance of the subject had been urged upon the attention of the 
Assembly of Massachusetts by Newburyport and Salem, — two 
of the principal maritime towns, — which memorialized in 
Nov.13. favor of public armed vessels, a law was passed, draughted by 
Elbridge Gerry, which authorized the employment of priva- 
teers, and established a court for the trial and condemnation 
t of prizes. 4 These vessels, the first sent out under the auspices 
of the colonies, and the embryo of the flourishing navy of the 
United States, sailed under the pine tree flag, which was white, 

1 Staples's Annals of Providence, to Quebec. The action of the General 
265 ; Sparks's Washington, iii. 77, Congress upon the subject of a navy 
516 ; Frothingham's Siege, 260. The does not properly fall within the prov- 
Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, ince of this work ; but the subject is 
on the 20 th of June, ordered six one of interest, from its bearings upon 
armed vessels to be fitted out ; but the maritime greatness of our country, 
nothing seems to have been imme- 4 Boston Gazette for Nov. 13, 1775 ; 
diately done in the matter. Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 94, 505 ; 

2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 516; Almon's Remembrancer, ii. 149-153 ; 
Frothingham's Siege, 260. Impartial Hist, of the War, 281 ; Mrs. 

3 Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, Warren's Hist, of the Rev. ; Mar- 
x. 29-32 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, i. shall's Life of Washington, ii. 257, 
101,513-520; Sparks's Washington, 258; Sparks's Washington, iii. 124, 
iii. 517, 518; Frothingham's Siege, 125,154,518; Frothingham's Siege, 
260. Captain John Selman, of Mar- 261. Elbridge Gerry, of Marblehead, 
blehead, was commissioned at the was at the bottom of this movement, 
same time ; and the vessels command- and it was through his influence that 
ed by him and Broughton were or- the law was passed. Life of Gerry 
dered to the River St. Lawrence, to chap. ix. 

intercept an ammunition vessel bound 


with the figure of a pine tree in the middle, and the motto chap. 
" Appeal to Heaven " inscribed on its folds. 1 IL 

The reorganization of the army was essentially promoted 1775. 
by the action of the committee appointed by the General Con- 
gress, which, with delegates from the New England colonies, 
held sessions for several days, thoroughly discussed the meas- Oct. 18 
ures to be adopted, and unanimously agreed that an army of 
not less than twenty thousand three hundred and seventy-two 
men was necessary to be raised, and that, if required, Massa- 
chusetts could raise twenty thousand men, Connecticut eight 
thousand, New Hampshire three thousand, and Rhode Island 
fifteen hundred, by the tenth of March, 1776. The result of 
this conference was extremely satisfactory to Washington ; 
and a plan was drawn up for the enlistment of twenty-six 
regiments, of eight companies each, besides riflemen and artil- 
lery, which was substantially adopted by Congress. 2 The Nov. 4. 
question of the independence of the colonies was likewise dis- 
cussed. Already had it been broached in various quarters by 
sagacious patriots, and favorably received ; and in the army it 
was so fully approved that it became " offensive to pray for 
the king." 3 General Greene, of Rhode Island, himself enthu- Oct. 23. 
siastic in the cause of liberty, advocated the step with great 
ability, and urged that the alternative before them was sepa- 
ration or subjugation. " We had as well be in earnest first as 
last," said he ; " for we have no alternative but to fight it out 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 261, 262. 257. Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lynch, and 
For some valuable remarks on the Colonel Harrison were the committee 
early naval affairs of the United States, appointed by Congress ; and, by their 
see Staples's Annals of Providence, instructions, they were to confer with 
265-270. General Washington and the New 

2 Trumbull's MS. Letter Book B, England governments relative to the 
27, 210, 212-223; Essex Gazette for war. When their report was made, 
Oct. 19, 1775; Franklin's Works, viii. it was resolved to raise an army of 
160, 198; Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 216- 20,372 men, officers included, to be 
219; Force's Am. Archives, iii. ; divided into 28 regiments, of 728 men 
Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 55 ; each, to be enlisted to the 31st of 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 123, note, December. 

133 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 258 ; 3 Belknap, in Frothingham's Siege, 
Bradford, ii. 50, 51 ; Hildreth's U. S. 263. 
iii. 107 j Frothingham's Siege, 256, 


chap, or be slaves." 1 The interest abroad in the struggle of he 
^J^, colonies was visibly increasing ; and France was deliberating 
1775. what course to take. All Europe, indeed, looked on with 
astonishment, and loudly applauded the valor of the Ameri- 
cans ; while, even in England, the friends of freedom did not 
hesitate to pray for their success. 2 

Yet the members of the Continental Congress continued to 
profess their loyalty to the crown ; and a petition to the king's 
July 8. "most excellent majesty" was draughted, in which they de- 
clared themselves " dutiful subjects," and prayed that his royal 
magnanimity and benevolence might direct some mode by 
which the united applications of his faithful colonists might be 
improved into a happy and perfect reconciliation. " Attached 
to your majesty's person, family, and government," say they, 
" with all the devotion that principle and affection can inspire, 
connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can 
unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any 
degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your majesty that 
we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between 
her and these colonies may be restored, but that a concord 
may be established between them upon so firm a basis as to 
perpetuate its blessings, uninterrupted by any future dissen- 
sions, to succeeding generations in both countries, and to 
transmit your majesty's name to posterity adorned with that 
signal and lasting glory that has attended the memory of 
those illustrious personages whose virtues and abilities have 
extricated states from dangerous convulsions, and, by securing 

1 Letter in Frothingham's Siege, voice is rather favorable to the Amer- 
263. See also the declaration of Pat- icans. In this, [England,] particu- 
rick Henry to the Virginia Conven- larly, the lower class of people are 
tion, March 23, 1775, in Wirt's Life, adverse to the war. . . . Neither 
122. Protestants nor Catholics in any num- 

2 J. Adams's Autobiog. in Works, ber have been prevailed upon, either 
ii. 503, 504 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 43 ; in England or Ireland, to enlist for 
Frothingham's Siege, 264. " In all the American service, though the 
the European countries," says Gordon, bounties have been raised, and the 
" where public affairs are a subject of usual standard lowered to facilitate the 
■writing or conversation, the general levies." 


happiness to others, have erected the most noble and durable chap. 
monuments to their own fame." x ^i^ 

This solemn appeal, which they resolved should be their 1775. 
last, and which is said to have been drawn up by Mr. Dickin- 
son, of Pennsylvania, and adopted mainly through his influ- 
ence, 2 was intrusted to Richard Penn, one of the proprietaries 
of Pennsylvania ; and it was fondly hoped that it would 
"prove the olive branch of reconciliation." 3 At the same 
time, a declaration was drawn up, and read to the assembled 
troops and public bodies, setting forth in strong language the 
causes of their taking up arms ; 4 addresses to the inhabitants 
of Great Britain and to the people of Ireland were prepared ; 5 
and shortly after, by the accession of Georgia to the Union, Sep. 13. 
which had been much desired, but long delayed, the " thirteen 
original colonies " were joined into one body for the " preser- 
vation of the liberties of America ; " and from " Nova Scotia 
to Florida " there was a " general determination to resist to 
the last the claims of Great Britain.''* 6 

1 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 139-142 ; of the causes, motives, and objects of 

Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 370 ; Bradford, taking arms, with a view to obtain de- 

ii. 53 ; Impartial Hist, of the War, cisive declarations against independ- 

App. 21-23 ; Franklin's Works, viii. ence," &c. Diary, in Works, ii. 415. 

156 ; Observations on the Am. Rev. General Charles Lee was also opposed 

36-40 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. to it, as appears from his Letter of 

62. "The colonies," says Gordon, Sept. 2, 1775, in Lee's Lee, i. 157. 
" as yet desire no more than a redress 2 J. Dickinson to Arthur Lee, in 

of grievances, and security against a Life of Lee, ii. 212 ; J. Adams's Dia- 

repetition of them. They most ar- ry, in Works, ii. 409 ; Ramsay's Am. 

dently long for a firm and indissolu- Rev. i. 212, 213; Lord Mahon's Hist, 

ble union with the parent state upon Eng. vi. 63. 

these grounds. Thus is it with the 3 Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 62. 
army. It is the wish of General 4 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 134-139 ; 

Washington particularly, and such is 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 50-55 ; Gordon's 

its reasonableness that he hopes and Am. Rev. i. 369. The conclusion 

expects, that the contest will be short- of this declaration was exceedingly 

ly terminated, so as to admit of his eloquent. 

eating his next Christmas dinner at 5 Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 142-148, 168 

his own delightful residence at Mount -172 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 370, 374; 

Vernon." John Adams was strongly Impartial Hist, of the War, 219; Obs. 

opposed to this address, which he on the Am. Rev. 40-49. 
calls " a measure of imbecility." "It e Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 181, 182; 

occasioned," says he, " motions and Impartial Hist, of the War, 220 ; Gor- 

debates without end for appointing don's Am. Rev. i. 387 ; Bissett's Hist 

committees to draw up a declaration Eng. i. 427, 428. 


In England, however, notwithstanding there were many' 
warm friends to the colonies, the current of public feeling, 

1775. owing to studied misrepresentations of their sentiments and 
purposes, was turning against them ; and it was openly an- 
nounced that " the violent measures towards America are fairly 
adopted, and countenanced by a majority of individuals of all 
ranks, professions, or occupations in the country." 1 The 
magistrates of London, indeed, constituted a signal exception 

Aug. to this remark ; for, when the proclamation of the king was 
issued for " suppressing rebellion and sedition in America, and 
preventing traitorous correspondence with that country," and 
when this proclamation was read at the Royal Exchange, 
Wilkes, the lord mayor, showed his dissent in the most de- 
cided manner, and at the close of the ceremony his partisans 
hissed. 2 Yet the loyal addresses which poured in from all 
parts of the kingdom, — from the trading towns as well as 
from the rural districts, — declaring in strong terms their 
attachment to the throne and constitution, approving the acts 
of government, condemning the " insurgents," and recommend- 
ing perseverance until they should be " reduced to a thorough 
obedience," prove how wide-spread was the feeling in favor of 
coercion, and how little sympathy was felt for the "rebels." 3 

1 Burke's Corresp. ii. 68; Ram- entire independence of the British 
say's Am. Rev. i. 280 ; Bissett's Hist, legislature, and ardently wish an effort 
Eng. i. 441 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. may be taken to accommodate." See 
vi. 69 ; Bradford, ii. 70. Comp. Jour, also Franklin's Works, viii. 177. 
Cont. Cong. i. 103. " As far as my 2 Am. Reg. for 1775, 149 ; Gor- 
experience reaches," says Curwen, don's Am. Rev. ii. 45, 46 ; Lord Ma- 
Jour. 38, under date Aug. 31, 1775, hon's Hist. Eng/vi. 69. From several 
" I have observed that the upper ranks, other places petitions against coercive 
most of the capital stockholders, and, measures were presented ; and great 
lam told, the principal nobility, are bodies of American, African, and West 
for forcing the supremacy of Parlia- Indian merchants, with a majority of 
ment over the colonies ; and from the inhabitants of London and Bris- 
the middle ranks down are opposed tol, still struggled to have matters re- 
to it." Comp. also ibid. 35, under stored to then ancient state ; but all 
date Aug. 8, 1775. "There appears was to no purpose. Almon's Remem- 
to be a tenderness here in the minds brancer, ii. 334 et seq. 
of many for America, even of those 3 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 45 ; Bis- 
who disapprove of the principles of an sett's Hist. Eng. i. 442 ; Lord Mahon's 


Under these circumstances, as might have been expected, chap." 
'when the petition of the colonies was brought over to be pre- ^J^ 
sented to the king, and when Richard Penn and Arthur Lee 1775. 
placed it in the hands of Lord Dartmouth, it was received in 
silence ; and, three days later, they were informed that " no Sept. 4. 
answer would be given." x The Duke of Grafton, who had 
long viewed with solicitude the violent measures adopted by 
the ministry, had previously written to Lord North, urging a Aug. 
reconciliation with America, and expressing his belief that 
" the inclinations of the majority of persons of respectability 
and property in England differed in little else than words 
from the declaration of the Congress ; that if deputies from 
the United Colonies could not be acknowledged by the king, 
other expedients might be devised by which the wishes and 
expectations of his majesty's American subjects might be stated 
and properly considered ; and that a want of intercourse had 
hitherto been, and must still remain, an insuperable bar to 
accommodation." 2 No attention, however, was immediately 
paid to this letter ; and when it was answered, a draught of Oct. 20 
the king's intended speech to Parliament was enclosed, and 
his grace was politely informed that measures of coercion had 
been " unalterably decided upon." 3 In this state of affairs, 
the duke came to town, and requested an interview with the 
king ; but, though his majesty respectfully listened to his state- 
ments, and " condescendingly endeavored to demonstrate, by 
calm and dispassionate reasoning, the justice, the policy, and 
the necessity of this war, and the absolute certainty of ulti- 
mate success," no intention of yielding to the colonies was 

Hist. Eng. vi. 69. Manchester, in who supported and those who opposed 

this case, distinguished itself by taking it, revived that party distinction of 

the lead. whig and tory, which had been dor- 

1 Stedman's Am. War, i. 154; mant since the reign of Queen Anne." 
Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 214; Bissett's 2 Belsham's Geo. IILii. 132; Bis- 

Hist. Eng. i. 451; Lord Mahon's sett's Hist. Eng. i. 450; Lord Ma- 

Hist. Eng. vi. 69. " The fate of this hon's Hist. Eng. vi 71. 
petition," says Stedman, " and the ac- 3 Belsham's Geo. III. ii. 133 ; Lord 

rimony of argument used by those Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 7 1. 


chap, announced ; and the duke, unwilling to sanction such meas- 
w _ v ^ ures, resigned his post as lord privy seal. Dartmouth was 
1775. appointed his successor ; and the American secretaryship was 
bestowed upon Lord George G-ermaine, formerly Lord Sack- 
ville, who had hitherto acted uniformly with the court, and 
whose military knowledge and undoubted talents ill atoned 
for the violence of his temper and the rashness of his conduct. 1 
Oct. 26. The convocation of Parliament took place in October ; 2 
and the session was opened by an unusually long and elabo- 
rate oration from the throne, containing charges against 
Massachusetts of the wildest description, accusing the people 
of a " desperate conspiracy," and of " harboring a premeditated 
and general revolt." " They have raised troops," said the king, 
" and are collecting a naval force ; they have seized the public 
revenue, and assumed to themselves legislative, executive, and 
judicial powers, which they already exercise in the most arbi- 
trary manner over the persons and properties of their fellow- 
subjects ; and although many of these unhappy people may 
still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the 
fatal consequences of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet 
the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their 
acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall appear to support 
them." " It is now," he added, " become the part of wisdom 
to put a speedy end to these disorders by the most decisive 
exertions. For this purpose, I have increased my naval estab- 
lishment, and greatly augmented my land forces ; but in such 
a manner as may be the least burdensome to my kingdoms." 3 
The motion for an address conformable to this speech pro- 
voked, iu both Houses, an animated debate. In the House of 

1 Belsham's Geo. III. ii. 136 ; Bis- 3 Debates in House of Commons 
sett's Hist. Eng. i. 450 ; Lord Mahon's for 1775, iii. 1-4 ; Boston Gazette for 
Hist. Eng. vi. 71. Jan. 8, 1776; Stedman's Am. War, i. 

2 The date is October 25 in some 155 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 46 ; Ram- 
authorities, and October 26 in others; say's Am. Rev. i. 281 ; Bissett's Hist, 
but the latter is doubtless the true Eng. i. 444, 445 ; Lord Mahon's Hist 


Lords, Rockingham, in particular, condemned in the most chap. 
pointed manner the measures recommended by his majesty, as ^_^ 
fraught with ruinous consequences to the nation ; and the 1775. 
Duke of Grafton, freed from official ties by the resignation 
of his post, took part against the ministers with a zeal corre- 
sponding to the strength of his convictions ; but, after a long 
and vehement discussion, the original motion was carried by 
a vote of seventy-six to thirty-three. 1 The debate in the 
Commons was chiefly distinguished by the offence which 
seemed to be taken by many of the country gentlemen — the 
Sir Roger de Coverleysof the House — at that clause in the 
speech in which the king avowed his intention to introduce a 
body of his electoral forces into the garrisons of Port Mahon 
and Gibraltar ; yet the opposition to that part in which the 
affairs of America were touched upon called forth eloquent 
speeches from Lord John Cavendish, Mr. Wilkes, Governor 
Johnstone, General Conway, Luttrell, Barre, Burke, Fox, and 
Dunning. 2 On the other side, Lord North was supported by 
Mr. Ackland, the mover of the address, Governor Lyttleton, 
who seconded it, and Germaine, Barrington, Wedderburne, 
Ferguson, and Thurloe ; and so strong was the majority in 
his favor, that, after a whole night's discussion, when the 
question was taken, at a quarter past four in the morning, 
on an amendment which had been proposed, expressing con- 

1 Boston Gazette for Jan. 15, 1776 ; volved them in a civil war against 
Belsham's Geo. III. ii. 135, 136 ; Gor- their clearest interests, and upon the 
don's Am. Rev. ii. 48, 49; Ramsay's most unjustifiable grounds — wanton- 
Am. Rev. i. 282 ; Lord Mahon 's Hist, ly spilling the blood of thousands of 
Eng. vi. 72. The opponents of the their fellow-subjects." 
speech not only declared the American a Debates in House of Commons 
war to be "unjust and impolitic in its for 1775, iii. 4-44 ; Boston Gazette 
principles and fatalin its consequences," for Jan. 29, 1776 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. 
but affirmed that they could not con- ii. 47. General Conway condemned 
sent to an address " which might de- in the most decisive terms the Amer- 
ceive his majesty and the public into ican war, declaring it to be cruel, un- 
a belief of the confidence of their necessary, and unnatural, and calling 
House in the present ministers, who it in plain terms « a butchery of his 
had disgraced Parliament, deceived fellow-subjects." 
the nation, lost the colonies, and in- 

VOL. III. 5 


chap, cern that the means used to allay and suppress the disorders 

^J^ in the colonies had tended to increase, instead of diminishing, 
1775. the disturbances, it was rejected by a vote of two hundred 

Oct. 28. and seventy-eight to one hundred and eight, and the address 

was carried and sent to the king. 1 
Nov. This defeat, however, did not discourage the friends of 
America ; and in the following month the opposition was es- 
pecially active. No formal notice had as yet been taken of 

Nov. 7. the petition from America ; but, at the instance of the Duke 
of Richmond, Mr. Penn, who had been sent with the same, was admitted to be examined at the bar of the House of 
Lords, and a motion was made that the petition he had brought 
afforded " ground for a conciliation of the unhappy differences 
subsisting between Great Britain and America ; " but the 
motion was negatived by a vote of eighty-six to thirty-three. 2 
Debates were next raised against employing foreign troops 
without the consent of Parliament ; but on this, as on the 
other point, they were defeated. Nor did the subsequent 
motions of Burke and Fox, Sawbridge and Oliver, Hartley 
and the Duke of Grafton, tending to peace with America, 
meet with a better fate. The " morbid majority " in favor 
of coercion proved, after all, too strong to be defeated ; and 
the government was left at full liberty to pursue its negotia- 

1 Debates, &c, iii. 4-46 ; Sted- was sent out by the Boston gentry, 

man's Am. War, i. 158 ; Bissett's and, farcical enough, we gave great 

Hist. Eng. i. 445 ; Boston Gazette for joy to them, without knowing or in- 

Jan. 22, 29, 1776. The reception of tending it ; for on that day, the day 

the speech in America was such as which gave being to the new army, 

might have been expected ; and but before the proclamation came to 

Washington wrote, Jan. 4, 1776, "We hand, we had hoisted the Union flag, 

are at length favored with a sight of in compliment to the United Colo- 

his majesty's most gracious speech, nies." Sparks's Washington, iii. 224, 

breathing sentiments of tenderness 225. 

and compassion for his deluded Amer- 2 Belsham's Geo. III. ii. 138-140 ; 

ican subjects. The echo is not yet Stedman's Am. War, i. 160; Boston 

come to hand ; but we know what it Gazette for Feb. 12 and March 18, 

must be ; and, as Lord North said, — 1776 ; 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 58 ; Gordon's 

and we ought to have believed and Am. Bev. ii. 50, 5 1 ; Niles's Principles 

acted accordingly, — we now know and Acts of the Rev. 249-251 ; Bis- 

the ultimatum of British justice. The sett's Hist. Eng. i. 451,452; Lord 

. speech I send you. A volume of them Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 72. 


tions with petty German princes for the hire of mercenaries chap. 
to strengthen the army under General Howe. 1 Before ^^.1^ 
Christmas, likewise, the prohibitory bill of Lord North, intro- 1775. 

Dec. 11. 

duced towards the last of November, was passed, which re- Nov.20. 
pealed the Boston Port Bill and the two restraining acts of 
•the previous session, but absolutely interdicted all trade and 
commerce with the thirteen insurgent colonies so long as their 
rebellion should continue. 2 During the discussion, the gallery 
of the House was closed to strangers, " for the pretended rea- 
son that the floor was too small, and the gallery necessary for 
the use of members ; " the stringent clauses of the bill were 
defended in speeches of the most extravagant character ; and, 
in particular, Lord Mansfield, to signalize his own arbitrari- 
ness, quoted the laconic speech of Gustavus Adolphus, who, on 
a certain occasion, pointed to the enemy, and exclaimed to his 
soldiers, " See you those lads ? Kill them, or they will kill 
you." 3 Well might Burke remark, in view of such legislation, 
" It affords no matter for very pleasing reflection to observe 
that our subjects diminish as our laws increase." 4 Had Chat- 
ham been able to appear in Parliament, to launch at the admin- 
istration those thunderbolts of indignation before which his 

L o J 

1 Letter of Jedediah Huntington, ther under Chap. III. of this volume 
Jan. 14, 1776, in Trumbull MSS. v. The assent of the king to this bill was 
5 ; Debates in House of Commons for given on the 21st of December. 
1775, iii. 236 et seq. ; Stedman's Am. 3 Curwen's Jour. 40, 41; Pan. 
War, i. 162-164; Boston Gazette for Hist. Eng. xviii. 1102; Debates in 
Feb. 26 and March 18, 1776 ; Gor- House of Commons for 1775, iii. ; 
don's Am. Rev. ii. 49, 53 ; Ramsay's Belsham's Geo. in. ii. 145 ; Bissett's 
Am. Rev. i. 282. 28,000 seamen and Hist. Eng. i. 453, 454 ; Ramsay's 
55,000 land forces were voted to be Am. Rev. i. 284 ; Lord Mahon's Hist, 
employed, including the troops already Eng. vi. 72. "The questions of ori- 
in America. Holmes's Am. Ann. ii. ginal right and wrong," said he, " are 
237, note. The conciliatory bill of no longer to be considered. We are 
Burke was introduced on the 16th of engaged in a war, and must use our 
November, and Fox's motion on the utmost efforts to obtain the ends pro- 
22d. posed by it. We must either fight or 

2 Debates,&c.,iii. ; Belsham's Geo. be pursued; and the justice of the 
III. ii. 144 ; Impartial Hist, of the cause must give way to our present 
War, 291 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 53, situation." 

54 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 282 ; Lord 4 Lett, to the Sheriffs of Princeton, 

Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 72. See fur- 1777 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 73. 


chap, opponents had so often quailed, the passage of this bill might, 

^J^, perhaps, have been prevented ; but, prostrated by an illness 
1775. similar to that which had once before affected him, he re- 
mained shut up in his house, and was secluded from the world 
for a period of two years, when, for the last time, he emerged 
into public life, and closed his long and brilliant career while 
warmly defending the cause of liberty. 1 

While these movements were in progress in England, in 
America the army under Washington was prosecuting with 
still greater rigor the siege of Boston. The proclamations of 
Gage, issued before he left the country, had been severely 

Nov.12. censured ; and, as an offset to the same, orders were sent to 
General Sullivan to repair to Portsmouth, N. H., to complete 
the works already begun there, and seize all the officers of 
the crown in those parts who had given proofs of unfriendli- 
ness to the patriot cause. Similar orders were likewise trans- 
mitted to Governor Cooke, of Rhode Island ; and to Governor 

Nov.15. Trumbull, of Connecticut, Washington wrote, " Would it not 
be prudent to seize on those tories who have been, are, and 
that we know will be active against us ? Why should persons 
who are preying on the vitals of their country be suffered to 
stalk at large, while we know they will do every mischief in 
their power ? " 2 

The reorganization of the army still proved a matter of 
difficulty, and occupied a large share of the attention of the 
commander-in-chief. Jealousies existed at the south, as well 
as at the north ; and, in consequence of this distraction in the 
public councils, and the heartburnings among the officers, who 
fancied they were neglected, it became necessary to proceed 
with delicacy and caution. 3 The New England colonies, up 

1 Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 73, 3 '" Connecticut," wrote Washing- 
74. ton to Eeed, Nov. 8, 1775, "wants 

2 Trumbull MS. Letter Book B, no Massachusetts man in their corps. 
228 ; Sparks's Washington, iii. 145, Massachusetts thinks there is no ne- 
159, note ; Sparks's Corresp. of the cessity to be introduced amongst 
Rev. i. 70 ; Frothingham's Siege, 253. them ; and New Hampshire says it is 


to this date, had borne a large share of the burden of the chap. 
war ; and, with the exception of the rifle companies from the ^J^, 
Middle States, which had recently arrived, they had fought 1775, 
single-handed and alone. Yet the cause in which they were 
engaged was the cause of the country ; for, had England suc- 
ceeded in conquering Massachusetts, the effects of this triumph 
would have been every where felt. It was, therefore, with 
reason that the people of the north appealed to the south for 
aid, and that the General Congress sanctioned this appeal. 
Yet the valor of the New England troops had excited the 
envy of the south ; and Gerry wrote, " The eyes of friends 
and foes are fixed on this colony ; and if jealousy or envy can 
sully its reputation, they will not miss the opportunity." * 
Washington felt the embarrassment of his position, and aimed 
to supplant this local jealousy by a union of spirit. His per- 
sonal letters and those of his officers are full of this theme ; 
and the difficulties encountered were " really inconceivable." 
Recruiting orders were issued ; but, after a month's exertions, Nov. 12 
only five thousand men had enlisted. 2 He was nearly dis- 
couraged. " Such a dearth of public spirit," he wrote, " and 

very hard that her valuable and expe- Frothingham's Siege, 265. " Let it 
rienced officers (who are willing to be remembered," says Gerry, " that 
serve) should be discarded because the first attack was made on this col- 
lier own regiments, under the new es- ony ; that we had to keep a regular 
tablishment, cannot provide for them." force without the advantage of a reg- 
Reed's Reed, i. 126. Comp. also ibid, ular government ; that we had to sup- 
i. 131, 132. Governor Trumbull, of port in the field from 12,000 to 14,000 
Connecticut, also wrote to President men, when the whole forces voted 
Hancock, Oct. 9, 1775, "It is unhap- by the other New England govern- 
py that jealousies should be excited ments amounted to 8500 only." 
or disputes of any sort be litigated 2 From a letter of President Han- 
between any of the colonies, to disu- cock to Governor Trumbull, Dec. 8, 
nite them at a time when our liber- 1775, in Trumbull's MS. Letter Book 
ties, our property, and our all is at B, 35, it appears that, from Novem- 
stake. If our enemies prevail, which ber 19 to November 28, but 2540 
can happen only by our disunion, our men had enlisted, and 966 previously 
iealousies will then appear groundless, — in all, about 3500 men. See, also, 
and all our disputed claims of no same to same, Dec. 2, in ibid. 34, on 
value to either side." Trumbull MS. enlisting soldiers for one year from 
Letter Book B, 30. Jan. 1, 1776. For a list of officers, 
1 Gerry's Letter of Oct. 9, 1775, Nov. 4, see N. E. Hist. Gen. Reg. for 
in Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 115; 1850,67,68. 


chap, want of virtue ; such stockjobbing, and fertility in all the 
^^ low arts, to obtain advantage on one hand or another, in this 
1775. great change of military arrangement, I never saw before, 
and pray God I never may -be witness to again." " Could I 
have foreseen," he adds, " what I have experienced, and am 
likely to experience, no consideration upon earth should have 
induced me to accept this command. A regiment, or any sub- 
ordinate department, would have been accompanied with ten 
times the satisfaction, and perhaps ten times the honor." 1 

Undaunted, however, by even such discouragements, Wash- 
ington determined to continue the siege, and to bring it to a 
close, if possible, before the spring opened. For this purpose, 
Nov. 9. in November, after a skirmish had occurred at Lechmere's 
Nov.22. Point, 2 ground was broken at Cobble or Miller's Hill by a 
detachment of about one thousand men under General Put- 
nam, and the intrenchments were completed by another de- 
tachment under General Heath, without receiving a shot from 
the enemy. 3 Yet the situation of the Americans was " truly 
alarming," notwithstanding the works which had been thrown 
up for their defence, and others which were projected, and 
"occasionally manned in case of a sortie." 4 The success of 

1 Sparks's Washington, iii. 178, tack, in this instance, was made by 
179 ; Reed's Reed, i. 130, 131 : Lord the British. 

Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 81; Froth- 3 Almon's Remembrancer, ii. 229 ; 

ingham's Siege, 266, 267. The legis- Heath's Mems. 30 ; Essex Gazette 

lature of Massachusetts did all they for 1775; Sparks's Washington, iii. 

could to encourage the citizens to join 172, 175 ; Reed's Reed, i. 129, 131 ; 

the army, and in an address, urging Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 415; Frothing- 

them to engage in the military ser- ham's 3iege, 268, 269. 

vice, said, " Happy will be the man 4 Sparks's Washington, iii. 176; 

who shall be able to boast that he Reed's Reed, i. 129 ; Frothingham's 

was one of those who assisted in this Siege, 269. " I have caused," wrote 

arduous but noble work. In serenity Washington, " two half-moon batte- 

he shall pass his future days ; and, lies to be thrown up, for occasional 

when satisfied with life, he will have use, between Lechmere's Point and 

the proud satisfaction of bequeathing the mouth of Cambridge River, and 

the inestimable patrimony to his another at the causey going to 

grateful children." Bradford, ii. 52. Lechmere's Point, to command that 

2 Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 415 ; pass and rake the little rivulet which 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 157; Froth- runs by it to Patterson's Fort. Be- 
ingham's Siege, 267, 268. The at- sides these, I have been and marked 


their privateers gave some encouragement, especially the cap- chap. 
ture of the ordnance brig Nancy, laden with military stores, ^^ 
which " spread such universal joy through the camp, as if each 1775. 
grasped victory in his hand." " The huzzas on the occasion," 
it is added, " were heard, I dare say, through all the territo- 
ries of our 'most gracious sovereign in this province." x 

December came, at length ; but no disposition was evinced 
on the part of the British to forsake their quarters, or to 
attack the American camp. The weather was piercingly cold, 
and the snow had commenced falling, so that the movements 
of the Americans were prosecuted with difficulty. Washing- 
ton was unable to account for the silence of the enemy. Daily 
did he expect an attack, but no troops appeared. They re- 
mained quietly in their shelter, and contented themselves with 
looking on quite indifferently, while a causeway was con- 
structed over the marsh leading to Lechmere's Point, and a Dec. 12. 
covered way was carried from thence nearly to the top of Dec. 16. 
the adjacent hill. When, however, a detachment of three Dec. 17 
hundred men was sent, under General Putnam, to break ground 
at the base of the hill, near the water, they were aroused for 
a moment, and began to cannonade the intruders with round 
and grape shot from the decks of a ship of war which lay 
near by, and from the battery at Barton's Point, mounted with 
twenty-four pounders and mortars. But this did not prevent 
the continuance of the work ; and, on the following day, Gen- Dec. 1&. 
eral Heath was ordered to the spot, and in the afternoon Wash- 

out three places between Sewell's Point War, 290 ; Frothingham's Siege, 269, 

and our lines on Roxbury Neck for 270. Putnam was so overjoyed, on 

works to be thrown up, and occasion- this occasion, that he hastily jumped 

ally manned, in case of a sortie, when upon the huge mortar which had been 

the bay gets froze." captured and mounted on its bed, 

1 History of the War in America, and, with a bottle of rum in his hand, 

167; Heath's Mems. 31; Thacher's amidst the shouts of the assembled 

Jour. 36 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. i. 416 ; multitude, stood " parson to christen, 

Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 224 ; Sparks's while godfather Mifflin gave it the 

Washington, hi. 182, 183 ; Reed's name of Congress." This mortar, 

Reed, i. 132, 133; Marshall's Wash- however, was soon after split and ren- 

ington, i. 258 j Impartial Hist, of the dered useless. 


chap, ington and other general officers visited him, and encouraged 
^^ him to persevere in his labors. 1 The result was highly en- 
1775. couraging ; for in a very short time two redoubts were thrown 
up, and a covered line of communication was built along the 
causeway quite up to the redoubts. The completion of these 
works gave to the Americans a commanding position ; and 
Colonel Moylan wrote, " Give us powder and authority, and 
Boston can be set in flames." 2 

At the close of the year 1775, the American army is said 
to have numbered less than ten thousand men — so greatly 
had it been reduced by the departure of those whose term of 
enlistment had expired, and by the lukewarmness with which 
the business of recruiting was prosecuted. 3 The letters of 
Washington are full of complaints on this subject ; and, satis- 
fied that it was no time for trifling, and that the exigency of 
public affairs called aloud for vigorous exertions, he continued 
to urge upon the Assemblies of the New England colonies and 
the General Congress the necessity of adopting measures to 
facilitate the completion of the army. 4 The troops from Con- 

1 Thacher's Jour. 37 ; Heath's 239. " Our returns of enlistments to 
Mems. 32 ; Reed's Reed, i. 136 ; this day," wrote Washington, Dec. 25, 
Newell's Jour, in 4 M. H. Coll. i. 1775, " amount to 8500 men." On 
270; Frothingham's Siege, 270, 271. the 31st, he wrote, " Our enlistments 

2 Heath's Memoirs, 34 ; Sparks's now amount to 9650 men ; " and on 
Washington, hi. 205, 213; Reed's the 14th Jan. 1776, " Our total num- 
Reed, i. 137 ; Frothingham's Siege, ber upon paper amounts to about 
271,272. "If the rebels," wrote one of 10,500." A writer, however, in Al- 
the British officers, " can complete the mon's Remembrancer, Jan. 6, 1776, 
new battery which they are raising, vol. ii. 238, says, " There are now 26 
this town will be on fire about our regiments complete at Cambridge, of 
ears a few hours after — all our build- 632 effective men, which amounts to 
ings being of wood, or a mixture of 16,422. The Connecticut troops re- 
brick and woodwork. Had the reb- turned home after the expiration of 
els erected their battery on the other their time. That colony is now raising 
side of the town, at Dorchester, the 19 regiments, of 900 effective men 
admiral and all his booms would have each. New York has raised 4, of 750 
made the first blaze, and the burning men each ; Jersey 2, of 632 ; and 
of the town would have followed. If Pennsylvania 5, of 632 effective men. 
we cannot destroy the rebel battery The number raised in the southern 
by our guns, we must march out and colonies I cannot inform you." 

take it, sword in hand." 4 For the instructions of Congress 

3 Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 259 ; on this subject, see Sparks's Corresp. 
Sparks's Washington, hi. 214, 220, of the Rev. i. 91. 


necticut were particularly mutinous ; nor was it believed that chap, 
the other colonies would give stronger proofs of attach- ^J^ 
ment to the common cause, upon the arrival of the period 1775 
when they might claim their dismission. 1 In this, however, 
he was happily disappointed ; for the citizens of Massachu- 
setts promptly responded to the call for their enlistment, and 
New Hampshire behaved nobly, discovering a zeal which did 
her the highest honor. 2 The people of Connecticut, too, 
" filled with grief, surprise, and indignation," were aroused to 
action ; and the inhabitants of the several towns, to redeem 
their credit, evinced their readiness to march to the camp, 
" upon their being acquainted with the behavior and deser- 
tion of their troops." 3 Upon the whole, therefore, the aspect 
of affairs began to be more encouraging ; and the despatch 
made, both by the people in marching and by the legislative 
powers in complying with his requests, gave " infinite satisfac- 
tion " to the commander-in-chief. 4 The want of powder was 
still seriously felt, nor was the supply of cannon remarkably 
large ; 5 but the filling up of the army, the erection of bar- 

1 Thacher's Jour. 37. " The same men in the sendee this winter, either 
desire of* retiring into a chimney cor- as part of the continental army, or as 
ner," wrote Washington to Reed, Jan. provincial troops to protect and guard 
4, 1776, " seized the troops of New the sea coast. See the rolls at the 
Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Mas- State House, and comp. Bradford, ii. 
sachusetts, (so soon as their time ex- 79. 

pired,) as has worked upon those of 3 Trumbull MS. Letter Book B, 

Connecticut, notwithstanding many of 229,231; Sparks's Washington, iii. 

them made a tender of their services 198 ; Reed's Reed, i. 146, 147 ; 

to continue till the lines could be suf- Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 103, 

ficiently strengthened." Reed's Reed, 104. General Lee, who was in Con- 

i. 141. necticut soon after, with recruiting or- 

2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 195 ; ders, speaks of the " noble spirit in 
Reed's Reed, i. 134 ; Frothingham's the province ; " and Trumbull wrote 
Siege, 273, 274. "The militia are to Washington, Jan. 22 and Feb. 2, 
coming in fast," wrote Washington, 1776, that the troops were raising, 
on the 11th of December. "I am and that the regiments were filling up 
much pleased with the alacrity which as fast as possible. Trumbull MS. 
the good people of this province, as Letter Book B, 251, 253, 255. 

well as those of New Hampshire, have 4 Sparks's Washington, iii. 206. 

shown upon this occasion." See, fur- 5 Sparks's Washington, iii. 213, 

ther, his letter of Jan. 4, 1776, in 215. " A committee from the Gen- 

Sparks's Washington, iii. 225. Mas- eral Court of this province called on 

sachusetts, it is said, had nearly 10,000 me the other day, informing me that 


chap, racks, and the supply of firewood, which came in freely, made 
^^^ the condition of the soldiers more comfortable and easy, and 

1775. caused them to show a better disposition, and to labor more 
cheerfully. 1 

1776, l n reviewing the experience of the past few months, well 
might Washington write, " It is easier to conceive than to 
describe the situation of my mind, and my feelings, under our 
present circumstances. Search the vast volumes of history 
through, and I much question whether a case similar to ours 
is to be found — to wit, to maintain a post against the flower 
of the British troops for six months together, without powder, 
and, at the end of them, to have one army disbanded, and 
another to raise, within the same distance of a reenforced 
enemy." 2 Nor was it without cause that he expressed these 
views ; for, under all the circumstances, it must be acknowl- 
edged that the difficulties he had encountered were such as 
could have never been met by an officer of inferior abilities ; 
nor could they have been overcome by him, had he not been 
seconded by eminent patriots in different parts of the country, 
who endeavored to allay the spirit of faction, soften local 
prejudices, and remove the causes which had hitherto pre- 
vented a harmony of action. That he did succeed, is to his 
credit, and to the credit of those who cooperated with him. 
It was indeed a time that " tried men's souls," a season of 
unusual darkness and gloom ; and, had not the clouds been 
speedily dispersed, the consequences must have been fatal in 
the extreme. 3 

they were in great want of ordnance 2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 225 ; 
for the defence of the colony." " Our Reed's Reed, i. 141 ; Gordon's Am. 
want of powder is inconceivable." Rev. ii. 14; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 
" Every thing thaws here," wrote 259 ; Thacher's Jour. 37. 
Moylan to Reed, Jan. 2, 1776, " ex- 3 Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 65. 
cept Old Put. He is still as hard as " It is highly to the honor of Wash- 
ever, crying out for powder, powder ! ington, laboring under so many dis- 
Ye gods, give us powder." Reed's advantages, to have yet achieved so 
Reed. i. 139. much." 
1 Frothingham's Siege, 274-276 



The position of the British army was equally discouraging, chap. 
Sickness extensively prevailed in Boston — the small pox, >- J v ^ w 
especially, having made sad havoc with the troops ; l the com- 1776. 
missariat was very ill contrived ; provisions were scarce ; fuel 
was wanting, and could only be obtained with the greatest 
difficulty • and the severity of the season, — the piercing winds 
and driving snows, — to which they were unaccustomed, caused 
much distress. 2 Nor were the tories, who had enlisted under 
Brigadier Ruggles, in a much better condition, notwithstand- 
ing their loyalty was amply rewarded by the gracious per- 
mission to " wear a white sash around the left arm ; " and the 
" Loyal Irish Volunteers," who were distinguished by a " white 
cockade," found even that ornament insufficient to satisfy the 
cravings of hunger. 3 Many, in consequence of their suffer- 
ings, were driven to desperation ; and it was only by the 
exercise of the strictest discipline on the part of General 
Howe, that the more lawless were kept from plundering pri- 
vate property and breaking out into all manner of riotous 
excesses. In some cases, offenders were hanged • in others, 
they were sentenced to receive from four hundred to one thou- 
sand lashes, according to the heinousness of their offence ; and 
an instance is recorded of the wife of a private, who was sen- 
tenced " to receive one hundred lashes on her bare back with 
a cat-o'-nine-tails, at the cart's tail, in different portions of the 

1 Almon's Remembrancer, ii. 230 ; 2 Thacher's Jour. 36 ; Frothing- 
Frothingham's Siege, 280. " The dis- ham's Siege, 280. Comp. Lord Ma- 
tress of the troops and people at Bos- hon's Hist. Eng. vi. 81. 
ton exceeds the possibility of descrip- 3 Frothingham's Siege, 279. The 
tion. There are advices in town of orders for the enlistment of the loy- 
December 14 ; not a coal ship was alists were issued in November ; and 
then arrived ; the inhabitants and the general order of the 17th of that 
troops literally starving with cold, month alludes to three companies. 
They had taken the pews out of all The Irish merchants enlisted in De- 
the places' of worship for fuel ; had cember. Another class is likewise 
pulled down empty houses, &c. ; and alluded to, — the Royal Fencible 
were then digging up the timber at Americans, — said to have been 
the wharves for firing. Very poor made up of deserters from the Amer- 
clothing ; and so scarce of provisions, ican camp, 
they had been eating horse flesh for 
some time." 


chap, most conspicuous parts of the town, and to be imprisoned foi 

^^^ three months. 1 
i77o. A few days after the opening of the new year, the resolution 
of the General Congress passed in December was received by 
Washington, authorizing him to attempt the expulsion of the 
British from Boston " in any manner he might think expedient, 
notwithstanding the town, and property in it, might thereby be 
destroyed." 2 John Hancock, the president of the Congress, 
and one of the wealthiest citizens of Massachusetts, subscribed 
to this resolution with a disinterested zeal ; and in his mes- 
sage to the commander in-chief communicating the action of 
his colleagues, he wrote, " May God crown your attempt with 
success. I most heartily wish it, though individually I may 
be the greatest sufferer." 3 

In accordance with this resolution, a council of war was 
1776. convened, to which the question of an attack was submitted, 

I6, n 'and an( l urged on the ground that it was " indispensably necessary 


to make a bold attempt to conquer the ministerial troops be- 
fore they could be reenforced in the spring." 4 The situation 
of the army, however, was extremely distressing. " My reflec- 
Jan.14. tion upon it," wrote Washington, " produces many an uneasy 
hour, when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people 
know the predicament we are in on a thousand accounts ; 
fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, 
from what cause it flows. If I shall be able to rise superior 
to these and many other difficulties which might be enumer- 
ated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Prov- 

1 Frothingham's Siege, 281. March, also by ministers of the gospel 

2 Jour. Cont. Cong.i. 281; Sparks's to their respective societies. Niles's 
Washington, iii. 221 ; Frothingham's Principles and Acts of the Rev. 142, 
Siege, 285. On the 19th of January, 143. 

1776, the General Court of Massachu- 3 Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. L 

setts issued a proclamation on the 100 ; Frothingham's Siege, 286. 
support of the government, which was 4 Sparks's Washington, iii. 221,, 

ordered to be read at the opening of note, 253, note; Reed's Reed, i. 149 

every Superior Court of Judicature, Frothingham's Siege, 286. 
&c, and at the annual town meetings in 



idence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies ; for surely, chap. 
if we get well through this month, it must be for want of ^^J^ 
their knowing the disadvantages we labor under," l In conse- 1776. 
quence of these difficulties, the action of the council was less 
decisive than it would have been under other circumstances. 
It was agreed, however, that a vigorous attempt on Boston Jan. 18. 
ought to be made, but that " the present force was inadequate " 
for the purpose ; and his excellency was advised to " request 
of the neighboring colonies thirteen regiments of militia, — 
seven from Massachusetts, four from Connecticut, and two 
from New Hampshire, — to serve till the first of April." In 
the mean time, should an opportunity offer to effect any thing, 
Washington was determined to avail himself of it ; and if, by 
any extraordinary exertion on his own part, or combination 
of circumstances favorable to an attack, the prospect of its 
successful termination seemed to warrant the attempt, he was 
ready to engage in it at all hazards. 2 

In the following month, a new council was convened, but with Feb. 16 
a like want of success. The irksomeness of his situation, and 
the consciousness that " the eyes of the whole continent were 
fixed with anxious expectation of hearing of some great event," 
had induced Washington to reurge upon their attention the ex- 
pediency of an assault ; but the inadequate state of the army, 
and the want of suitable munitions, were, in their estimation, 
invincible objections to a compliance with his request. It was 
resolved, however, that a cannonade and bombardment might 
be advisable, as soon as a supply of powder was received, and 
that preparations should be made to " take possession of Dor- 
chester Hill, with a view of drawing out the enemy, and of 
Noddle's Island also, if the situation of the water and other 

1 Sparks's Washington, iii. 240 ; 16, 1776, in Trumbull's MS. Letter 
Reed's Reed, i. 144 ; Frothingham's Book B, 246 ; MS. Minutes of Pro- 
Siege, 286. ceedings of the Council, in ibid. 248, 

2 MS. Lett, of Washington to Gov- 249, 522-524 ; Sparks's Washington, 
ernor Trumbull, of Connecticut, Jan. iii. 



chap, circumstances would admit of it." l This decision seems not 
^^ to have given entire satisfaction to Washington ; but the 
1776. arrangement was acquiesced in, and the conduct of the busi- 
ness was left to General Ward, who, with Generals Thomas 
and Spencer, had been for some time collecting fascines and 
gabions, "in expectation that the same would be wanted." 2 
In the mean time, the army had been materially strengthened 
by the arrival of ten regiments of fresh recruits ; and Colonel 
Knox, " with an enterprise and perseverance that elicited the 
warmest commendations, had brought from Crown Point and 
Ticonderoga, over frozen lakes and almost impassable snows, 
more than fifty cannon, mortars, and howitzers ; " a supply of 
shells had been procured from various sources ; and even pow- 
der became comparatively plenty in the camp. 3 A day was 
therefore fixed upon to take possession of Dorchester Heights ; 
Feb. 26. and Washington wrote to the Council of the Massachusetts Bay, 
submitting it to their wisdom " whether it may not be best to 
direct the militia of certain towns most contiguous to Dor- 
chester and Roxbury to repair to the lines at those places, 

1 Heath's Mems. 38 ; Gordon's 
Am. Rev. ii. 24 ; Sparks's Washing- 
ton, iii. 292 ; Reed's Reed, i. 166 ; 
Frothingham's Siege, 291, 292. The 
following extract from an unpublished 
letter of Washington to Governor 
Trumbull, Feb. 19,^ 1776, refers to 
this subject : " My situation with ref- 
erence to this article [powder] is real- 
ly distressing ; and, while common 
prudence obliges me to keep my want 
of it concealed, to avoid a discovery 
thereof to the enemy, I feel the bad 
effects of that concealment from our 
friends ; for, not believing our distress 
equal to what it really is, they with- 
hold such supplies as are in their pow- 
er to give. I am so restrained in all 
my military movements for want of 
the necessary supplies, that it is im- 
possible to undertake any thing effec- 
tual ; and, while I am fretting at my 
own disagreeable situation, the world, 
I suppose, is not behind in censuring 

my inactivity. A golden opportunity 
has been lost, perhaps not to be re- 
paired again this year. The late freez- 
ing weather had formed some pretty 
strong ice from Dorchester to Boston 
Neck, and from Roxbury to the Com- 
mon, which would have afforded a less 
dangerous approach to the town than 
through the lines or by the water." 
Trumbull, MS. Letter Book B, 266 et 
seq. For a return of the powder re- 
ceived at Cambridge from Providence, 


amounting to 35 i i 

lbs. net, — see ibid. 268. See, also, 
ibid. 264, Lett, of Gov. Trumbull, Feb. 
16, relative to forwarding powder. 

2 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 24. 

3 J. Adams's Diary, in Works, ii. 
432 ; Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 
87, 94; Heath's Mems. 28, 37 ; Gor- 
don's Am. Rev. ii. 26 : Sparks's Wash- 
ington, iii. 297 ; Reed's Reed, i. 129, 
131 ; Bradford, ii. 81 ; Frothingham's 
Siege, 295. 


with their arms, ammunition, and accoutrements, instantly chap 
upon a given signal." 1 To facilitate this plan, the works at ^^ 
Lechmere's Point were completed, and some heavy pieces of 1776. 
ordnance were placed there, with two platforms for mortars ; 
strong guards were likewise mounted at the Point and at 
Cobble Hill ; and every thing was ready for offensive oper- 
ations. 2 

With these preparations, early in March the American camp 
began to present "indications of an approaching conflict." 
The ground at Dorchester was frozen so hard that intrench- 
ments could not be readily thrown up ; and the army was 
" obliged to depend entirely on chandeliers, fascines, and 
screwed hay " for their redoubts. 3 To divert the attention of 
the enemy, while engaged at their work, a severe cannonade Mar. 2. 
was commenced from Cobble Hill, Lechmere's Point, and 
Lamb's Dam, in Roxbury ; and under cover of this fire, which 
was continued for three nights, General Thomas, with about 
two thousand men, six twelve pounders, and six or eight field 
pieces, marched to take possession of Dorchester Heights. Mar. 4 
A covering party of eight hundred men led the way ; then 
came the carts with the intrenching tools ; after these came 
the main working body of about twelve hundred men ; and a 
train of more than three hundred carts, provided by General 
Mifflin, and loaded with fascines and hay, "closed the proces- 
sion." 4 The whole body moved with the greatest silence, and 
reached their destination in about an hour. The covering 
party then divided — one half proceeding " to the point near- 
est to Boston, and the other to that next to the Castle." The 
direction of the wind was favorable to the workmen, carrying 

1 Sparks's Washington, iii. 295, 296. 4 . S. Nash's MS. Journal ; Gordon's 

2 Heath's Memoirs, 39 ; Sparks's Am. Rev. ii. 26 ; Newell's Jour, in 
Washington, iii. 296 ; Reed's Reed, 4 M. H. Coll. i. 272 ; Sparks's Wash- 
i. 166 ; Frothingham's Siege, 296. ington, iii. 302, 303 ; Reed's Reed, i. 

3 Sparks's Washington, iii. 299 ; 168. John Goddard, of Brookline, is 
Reed's Reed, i. 167 ; Frothingham's said to have had charge of these carts. 
Siege, 297. Communication of H. W. Fuller, Esq. 


chap, what noise could not be avoided by driving the stakes and 
w ^J^ picking the ground towards the harbor, between the town and 
1776. the Castle ; and by ten o'clock, so diligently did they labor, 
two forts were erected, one upon each hill, sufficient to defend 
them from small arms and grape shot. The night was re- 
markably mild and pleasant ; and the moon, which shone 
brightly upon the hills, gave sufficient light to conduct their 
operations, while the haze below prevented their being discov- 
ered. About three o'clock in the morning, a relief party of 
two companies of artillery was sent on ; at four o'clock, Cap- 
tain Drury's company of artillery marched ; teams passed con- 
stantly to and fro with materials for the defences ; and the 
attention of the British was diverted by the firing from Rox- 
bury, from Cobble Hill, and from Lechmere's Point, which 
they briskly returned with bomb and ball. The construction 
of the works was somewhat novel ; and rows of barrels, filled 
with earth, were placed around, which "presented only the 
appearance of strengthening " them, but which were in reality 
designed to roll upon the enemy, in case of an attack. 1 

It was some time after daybreak, on the morning of the 
Mar. 5. fifth, before the " ministerial troops " could clearly discern the 
newly-erected forts, which loomed up to great advantage, and 
which were thought to be much larger than was really the 
case. The pencil of a Hogarth would have been needed to 
portray the astonishment of General Howe ; and in great con- 
fusion he exclaimed, " I know not what I shall do. These 
rebels have done more in one night than my whole army 
would have done in months." Admiral Shuldham was also 

1 Nash's MS. Journal, in the posses- Frothingham's Siege, 298. The pro- 

sion of the author ; Gen. Howe to Earl ject of filling* barrels with earth was 

of Dartmouth, Mar. 21, 1776; Heath's "suggested," says Heath, "by Mr. 

Memoirs, 40 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. William Davis, merchant, of Boston, 

26, 27 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 262 ; to our general, who immediately com- 

Sparks's Washington, iii. 341 ; Reed's municated it to the commander-in- 

Reed, i. 168 ; Letters of Mrs. Adams ; chief, who highlv approved of it, as 

N. A. Rev. for Oct. 1840, 371, 372 ; did all the other"' officers." 


of opinion that, if the Americans were not dislodged, not one chap. 
of his majesty's ships could be kept in the harbor. A coun- ^J^ 
cil of war was accordingly convened, and it was decided to 1776. 
attempt to force the works. 1 

Washington had already settled his plans of defence and 
offence ; and his officers and men " appeared impatient for the 
appeal, and to possess the most animated sentiments and de- 
termined resolution." Signals had been prepared at Roxbury 
meeting house to mark the moment of the enemy's departure 
from Boston ; and four thousand chosen men, under Sullivan 
and Greene, were held in readiness at Cambridge, and parad- 
ed, to embark in boats, land at different points, and enter the 
town as soon as the British should leave. The hurry and 
bustle in the camp of General Howe could be distinctly seen 
from without ; his orders were issued for the preparation of 
scaling ladders, about ten feet in length ; and a large body 
of troops was directed to embark on board the transports, 
with a view of landing in the hollow between the farthest of 
the two fortified hills and the Castle. The men, it is said, 
looked pale and dejected ; and more than one was heard to 
remark, " It will be another Bunker's Hill affair, or worse.' 7 
The Americans watched their movements with no little eager- 
ness ; and when the columns appeared on the wharves, and 
passed to the transports, they " clapped their hands for joy, 
and wished them to come on." It was remembered throughout 
the camp that it was the anniversary of the massacre of 1770 ; 
and Washington had only to remind his men of the circum- 
stance to " add fuel to the martial fire already kindled, and 

1 Nash's MS. Journal ; Thacher's the hills," says Nash, " they fired twen- 

Jour. 43 ; Lett, of Jedediah Hunting- ty or thirty shot at them, but did 

ton, Mar. 6, 1776, in Trumbull MSS. no damage. We had one lieutenant 

v. 45 ; Almon's Remembrancer, iii. killed at Roxbury last night, and two 

106 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 27 ; men killed at Cambridge, one of 

Sparks's Washington, iii. 303 ; Reed's whom was killed with a bomb — the 

Reed, i. 169, 17 1; Bradford, ii. 92; first we have ever had killed with a 

Frothingham's Siege, 298, 299. "At- bomb since the campaign begun." 
ter the enemy discovered our men on 
VOL. III. 6 


chap, burning with uncommon intenseness." The surrounding hills 

v- J^_ were alive with spectators ; and a more bloody scene was 
1776. anticipated than at Charlestown. But the movements of the 
British were delayed by a furious wind, which arose in the 
afternoon, and which blew with such violence as to prevent 
the ships from reaching their destination. The attempt, 
therefore, was abandoned for that day ; and on the following 

Mar. 6. day the wind continued boisterous, and a storm of rain set in, 
which precluded the possibility of renewing it with any pros- 
pect of success. 1 

Mar. 7. The seventh was a day of hurry and confusion in Boston ; 
and " both troops and tories were as busy as possible in pre- 
paring to quit the town, and to carry off all they could of 
their military stores and valuable effects." That night, Cap- 
tain Irvine, who had been held as a prisoner, escaped, with six 
others, and, visiting head quarters, informed Washington of 
the movements of the enemy, and of their intention to with- 
draw as speedily as possible. Nor was this mere rumor ; for, 

Mar. 8. the next day, a flag was sent out from the selectmen, with a 
message assuring his excellency that General Howe had no 
intention of destroying the town " unless his troops were mo- 
lested, during their embarkation or departure, by the armed 
force without." 2 But Washington was not to be deterred 
from taking all necessary steps to insure the success of his 
plans ; and a strong detachment was sent to throw up a bat- 
tery on Nook's Hill, at Dorchester Point, with the design of 
acting as circumstances might require. This, however, was 

1 Almon's Remembrancer, iii. 105, i. 273 ; Impartial Hist, of the "War, 
106 ; Thacher's Jour. 41 ; Gordon's 294 ; Heath's Mems. 41 ; Almon's 
Am. Rev. ii. 28 ; Sparks's Washing- Remembrancer, iii. 105 ; Gordon's 
ton, iii. 304, 305 ; Reed's Reed, i. 169 ; Am. Rev. ii. 29; Sparks's Wash- 
Boston Gazette for March 4, 11, 18, ington, iii. 307, 311, 532, 533; 

:and 25, 1776; Bradford, ii. 93, 94; Reed's Reed, i. 183; Frothingham's 

Frothingham's Siege, 300. " Tuesday, Siege. Israel Mauduit, in some MS. 

"March 5 : an exceeding bad storm notes on the examination of Lord 

•this morning. Wednesday, March 6 : Howe, speaks of this as a " clandes- 

no firing to-day." Nash's Jour. tine capitulation, which he meanly per- 

2 Nash's Jour. ; Thacher's Jour, mitted and connived at, between the 
42; Newell's Jour, in 4 M. H. Coll. selectmen of Boston and Washington." 


not effected without discovery ; and a fire was opened by the chap. 
British upon the Point, which was returned by the Americans ^J^ 
from Roxbury, Cobble Hill, and Lechmere's Point. 1 1776. 

The suspense of the Americans continued for a week, dur- 
ing which time the British were busily employed in complet- 
ing their arrangements. A portion of the soldiery, as was to 
have been expected, could not be restrained from acts of vio- 
lence ; and " there was a licentious plundering of shops, stores, 
and dwelling houses, by soldiers and sailors, carrying destruc- 
tion wherever they went ; and what they could not carry 
away they destroyed." 2 It should be observed, however, to 
the credit of General Howe, that he exerted himself diligently 
to prevent such excesses ; and the guilty were threatened 
with death, if detected in robbing or firing a house. 3 All 
that he now waited for was a favorable wind, to enable him 
to embark ; but the crisis was precipitated when, on the morn- 
ing of the seventeenth, he discovered a breastwork on Nook's Mar. 17. 
Hill, entirely commanding the town, and rendering longer 
delay both imprudent and dangerous. The preparations for 
the embarkation were therefore hastened ; and, at a quite early 
hour on Sunday, the British, satisfied that " neither hell, Hull, 
nor Halifax could afford worse shelter," evacuated the town, 
with some fifteen hundred of the tories, leaving behind a 
number of cannon, spiked, and two large marine mortars, 
which they had attempted in vain to burst. Their departure 
was soon known in the American camp, though the garrison 
at Bunker Hill sought to conceal their retreat by fixing " some 
images representing men in the places of their sentinels, with 
muskets on their shoulders." But the deception was quickly 

1 Nash's Jour. ; Heath's Memoirs, Communication of Pynson Blake, 

41 ; Sparks's Washington, iii. 307. Esq. 

" We had four men killed at one shot 2 Neweli's Jour, in 4 M. H. Coll. 
on the Point," says Nash, " and were i. 274 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 29. 
obliged to give over intrenching that 3 Gen. Howe to the Earl of Dart- 
night." James Blake resided at the mouth, Jan. 22, 1776 ; Gordon's Am. 
Point, but had deserted his house. Rev. ii. 30 ; Frothingham's Siege, 307. 



chap, discovered ; and while General Putnam landed at Sewall's 
^^ Point, and entered the town in one direction, a detachment 
1776. of Ward's troops from Roxbury marched in, under Colonel 
Learned, and took possession from that quarter, to the inex- 
pressible joy of the patriot inhabitants. 1 

The transports of the British, which, with the other vessels, 
consisted in all of one hundred and forty sail, were detained 
in the harbor and roads for several days ; and during this 
period the troops burned the blockhouse and barracks on 
Castle Island, and blew up and demolished the fortifica- 
tions. 2 Their precise destination was not known ; but, as it 
was conjectured by Washington that their next attempt would 
be against New York or some more southern colony, he was 
determined to be in readiness to meet them wherever they 
might land. For this purpose, as General Lee had some time 

1 Boston Gazette for March 25, 
1776; Nash's Journal; Heath's Me- 
moirs, 43 ; Sparks's Washington, iii. 
321; Reed's Reed, i. 176. "The 
hurry in which the} 7 have embarked," 
wrote Washington to Reed, " is in- 
conceivable. They have not, from a 
rough estimate, left less than £30,000 
worth of his majesty's property behind 
them, in provisions and stores, ves- 
sels, rugs, blankets, &c. ; near thirty 
pieces of fine heavy cannon are left 
spiked, which we are now drilling, a 
mortar or two, the H. shells, &c, in 
abundance ; all then artillery carts, 
powder wagons, &c, &c, which they 
have been twelve months about, are 
left, with such abuse as then hurry 
would permit them to bestow ; whilst 
others, after a little cutting and hack- 
ing, were thrown into the harbor, and 
are now visiting every shore. In short, 
you can scarce form an idea of the 
matter. Valuable vessels are left, 
with only a mast or bowsprit cut 
down, some of them loaded ; their 
works are all standing, upon exami- 
nation of which, especially at Bun- 
ker's Hill, we find amazingly strong ; 
20,000 men could not have carried it 
against 1000, had that work been wpII 

defended. The town of Boston was 
almost impregnable, every avenue 
fortified." For a list of the stores left 
in Boston, see the Boston Gazette for 
April 15, 1776, Stedman's Am. War, 
i. 167, and Almon's Remembrancer, 
iii. 109. The British, it is said, mixed 
arsenic with the medicines left at the 
almshouse ; and the fact was fully 
proved by an analysis conducted by 
Dr. Wan-en. Gazette for April 22, 

2 Newell's Jour, in 4 M. H. Coll. i. 
275; Nash's Journal; Almon's Re- 
membrancer, iii. 105, 109 ; Gordon's 
Am. Rev. ii. 31 ; Heath's Mems. 43 ; 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 324, 327, 
330; Reed's Reed, i. 177. "Tues- 
day, March 21," says Nash, "all the 
ships, except one that lay by the Cas- 
tle, got under way, and went down to 
Nantasket Roads, and there came to 
an anchor ; and our people went and 
took possession of the Castle, where 
several cannon were left, and all ex- 
cept three were spiked up. Colonel 
Tupper. with a great number of men 
in whaleboats, has been down the 
channel two or three days, to watch 
the motion of the enemy." 


before been ordered thither, the march of the continental chap. 
army towards the south was hastened ; and, before the month ^^ 
closed, several regiments were on their way to New York, 1776. 
while Washington himself remained for a season, to prevent 
the recapture of the town and to mature his plans. 1 Thus 
were the British expelled from the soil of Massachusetts. The 
" refractory colony " remained unsubdued ; and the zeal which 
had been displayed inspired throughout the country the live- 
liest hopes of ultimate success. 

The triumph of Washington was highly encouraging ; and 
congratulatory addresses poured in upon him from the Gen- 
eral Congress, the inhabitants of Boston, and the legislature 
of Massachusetts. 2 The condition of the town exhibited a 
melancholy proof of the ravages of war. The small pox was 
raging. The streets were filled with filth. Many buildings 
were destroyed ; churches were defaced ; fruit and ornamental 
trees had been cut down and burned ; and the wanton spirit 
of devastation had left its traces in every quarter. 3 Happily, 
the recuperative energies of the people were such, that the 
check which had been put upon their temporal prosperity 
stimulated to renewed efforts to regain their former position ; 
the deserted streets were once more filled ; business was re- 
sumed ; industry flowed in its accustomed channels ; the waste 
places were built up ; and the metropolis of the north began 

1 Nash's Journal ; Gordon's Am. the assiduity, skill, and bravery of the 
Rev. ii. 31 ; Heath's Memoirs, 44 ; other worthy generals and officers of 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 319, 330- the army; and to the hardiness and 
333. gallantry of the soldiery, is to be 

2 Almon's Remembrancer, iii. Ill- ascribed, under God, the glory and 
113; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 33; success of our arms in driving from 
Sparks's Washington, iii. 335, 533 ; one of the strongest, holds in America 
Niles's Principles and Acts of the so considerable a part of the British 
Rev. 148-150; Bradford, ii. 97-101 ; army as that which last week occupied 
Frothingham's Siege, 316 et seq. the capital of this province." 

" To the wisdom, firmness, intrepid- 3 Recollections of a Bostonian, in 

ity, and military abilities of our amia- the Boston Centinel, and in Niles's 

ble and beloved general, his excellen- Principles and Acts of the Rev. 479, 

cy Geo. Washington, Esq.," says the 4S0 ; Bradford, ii. 94, 95 ; Frothing- 

Boston Gazette for March 25 ; " to ham's Siege, 327-329. 


chap, to resume its wonted aspect of activity and enterprise. This, 
^^^ it is true, was the work of time ; nor was it easy, where 
1776. oppression had so long ruled, to recover in an instant from 
the convulsive shock. But to the determined soul all obsta- 
cles yield, and discouragements are but stepping stones to 
higher achievements. 



The evacuation of Boston by the British troops transferred chap. 
the theatre of war from Massachusetts to New York ; and v- ^ v ^ - 
thenceforth the revolution, no longer confined to the limits 1776. 
of a single colony, became a national affair. The thir- 
teen united colonies had previously pledged themselves to 
sustain it as the cause of the country, under the conviction 
that it was a common cause. No longer, therefore, could tar- 
diness be tolerated ; and preparations for general hostilities 
were prosecuted with vigor. The question of independence, 
too, came up for discussion ; and, as it admitted of little doubt 
that the intentions of Great Britain were to push matters to 
extremities, and as all hopes of reconciliation had been re- 
luctantly abandoned, there remained but one course for the 
Americans to take — they must proceed immediately to declare 
their independence. " With respect to myself," wrote Wash- 
ington to Reed, " I have never entertained an idea of an Feb. 10. 
accommodation since I heard of the measures which were 
adopted in consequence of the Bunker's Hill fight. The 
king's speech has confirmed the sentiments I entertained upon 
the news of that affair ; and if every man was of my mind, the 
ministers of Great Britain should know in a few words upon 
what issue the cause should be put. I would not be deceived 
by artful declarations or specious pretences ; nor would I be 
amused by unmeaning propositions ; but in open, undisguised, 
and manly terms proclaim our wrongs, and our resolution to 
be redressed. I would tell them that we had borne much ; 
that we had long and ardently sought for reconciliation upon 



chap, honorable terms ; that it had been denied us ; that all our 

^^ attempts after peace had proved abortive, and had been 
1776. grossly misrepresented ; that we had done every thing which 
could be expected from the best of subjects ; that the spirit of 
freedom beats too high in us to submit to slavery ; and that, 
if nothing else would satisfy a tyrant and his diabolical min- 
istry, we were determined to shake oif all connections with a 
state so unjust and unnatural. This I would tell them — not 
under cover, but in words as clear as the sun in its meridian 
brightness." 1 

The sentiments thus expressed were extensively current ; 
and by many zealous patriots a declaration of independence 
was urgently counselled. " Permit me," wrote Greene, at the 

Jan. 4. opening of the new year, " to recommend, from the sincerity of 
my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country's cause, a 
declaration of independence, and call upon the world, and the 
great God who governs it, to witness the necessity, propriety, 
and rectitude thereof." 2 " Shall we never," wrote Moylan 
to Joseph Reed, " leave off debating, and boldly declare inde- 
pendence ? That, and that only, will make us act with spirit 
and vigor. The bulk of the people will not be against it ; 
but the few and timid always will." 3 General Charles Lee 

Feb. 28. also wrote to the same person, '' Reconciliation and reunion 
with Great Britain is now as much of a chimera as incorpo- 
ration with the people of Tibet." 4 Reed himself likewise 

Mar. 3. wrote to Petti t, " I look upon separation from the mother 

1 Sparks's Washington, in. 286 ; nite action. Bissett, Hist. Eng. i. 

Reed's Reed, i. 158. Gordon, Am. 469, Philad. 1822, likewise mistakes 

Rev. ii. 13, represents Washington as the views of Washington in supposing 

holding different sentiments, and says that he was " far from approving of 

he had " no wish that the Congress an entire dissolution of the connec- 

should declare the colonies independ- tion " with Great Britain. Comp. on 

ent." But this statement needs qual- this subject Sparks's Life of Washing- 

ification, and should be understood of ton, i. 116, and N. A. Rev. for Oct. 

his views at an earlier date, when, it 1838, 365. 
is admitted, he, like others, cherished 2 Frothingham's Siege, 284. 
the hope of reconciliation. But he 3 Reed's Reed, i. 160. 
had now abandoned that hope, and 4 Reed's Reed, i. 161. 
taken ground in favor of more defi- 


country as a certain event, though we are not yet so familiar- chap 
ized to the idea as thoroughly to approve it." ! And, even at ^^^ 
an earlier date, Jefferson wrote to John Randolph, " Believe 1775. 

Nov. 29 

me, dear sir, there is not in the British empire a man who 
more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. 
But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before 1 
yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament 
proposes ; and in this I think I speak the sentiments of Amer- 
ica. We want neither inducement nor power to declare and 
assert a separation. It is will alone that is wanting ; and 
that is growing apace, under the fostering hand of our king." 2 
While matters were in this state, Thomas Paine issued his 
pamphlet entitled " Common Sense/' in which the question of 
independence was boldly discussed ; and the effect it produced 
was really marvellous. " Nothing," says Gordon, " could have 
been better timed than this performance. In unison with 
the sentiments and feelings of the people, it has produced 
most astonishing effects, and been received with vast applause ; 
read by every American ; and recommended as a work replete 
with truth, and against which none but the partial and preju- 
diced can form any objections. It has satisfied multitudes 
that it is their true interest immediately to cut the Gordian 
knot by which the American colonies have been bound to 
Great Britain, and to open their commerce, as an independent 
people, to all the nations of the world. It has been greatly 
instrumental in producing a similarity of sentiment through 
the continent upon the subject under the consideration of 
Congress." 3 Washington also wrote, " A few more of such 1776. 

° to Jan. 31. 

flaming arguments as were exhibited at Falmouth and Norfolk, 
added to the sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning con- 
tained in the pamphlet ' Common Sense/ will not leave num- 
bers at a loss to decide upon the propriety of a separation." 4 

i Reed's Reed, i. 164, note. 4 Reed's Reed, i. 148. See also 

2 Jefferson's Works, i. 203. Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 338, and 

3 Am. Rev. ii. 78. Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 136. 


No definite action, however, had as yet been taken by Con- 
gress on this subject ; nor were all the members prepared for 
1776. so important a step. 1 Indeed, the dissimilar origin and inter- 
ests of the colonists, with the peculiarities of their government, 
their institutions, and their temperament, the variety of their 
religious opinions, and the rarity of their intercourse with each 
other, were formidable obstacles to perfect concert of action ; 
and there were many, besides, whose personal interests and 
political prejudices were so deeply involved that the idea of an 
entire renunciation of allegiance to England was viewed by 
them with aversion ; and these cautious statesmen, like coastwise 
navigators fearful of adventuring to a distance from land, urged 
that it would be unwise and impolitic to proceed to extremi- 
ties without first providing additional safeguards for the pro- 
tection of their liberties ; and even then, they argued, it would 
be better to refrain from severing the ties which had bound 
them to the mother country until fully assured that they could 
do so with safety, and with a reasonable prospect of ultimate 
success. 2 

The history of the separation of the colonies from Great 
Britain is replete with peculiar interest and instruction ; and, 

John Adams entertained a less exalt- entitled " The True Interest of Amer- 

ed opinion of this pamphlet ; and ica impartially stated, in ' Certain 

while he admits that " it probably Strictures on a Pamphlet entitled 

converted some to the doctrine of in- Common Sense," was also printed in 

dependence," he adds, " these would Philadelphia in the same year, 
all have followed Congress with zeal; ' Early in January, 1776, a motion 

and, on the other hand, it excited was made in Congress to the effect 

many writers against it, particularly that, " whereas we have been charged 

' Plain Truth,' who contributed very with aiming at independency, a com- 

largely to fortify and inflame the par- mittee shall be appointed to explain 

ty against independence, and finally to the people at large the principles 

lost us the Aliens, Penns, and many and grounds of our opposition," &c. ; 

other persons of weight in the com- but as some alarm was occasioned by 

munity." Autobiog. in Works, ii. 509. this motion, the matter was postponed 

See also " The Life and Character of for future consideration. Jour. Cont. 

Thomas Paine," in N. A. Rev. for Cong. ; Corresp. of J. Adams, in 

July, 1843. "Plain Truth" was print- Works, ix. 372 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. 

ed at Philadelphia, in 1776, in a pam- ii. 13. 

phlet of 84 pages, including the re- 2 Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, 

marks of " Rationalis " and " Cato to x. 283 ; Austin's Life of E. Gerry, i. 

the People." A pamphlet of 72 pages, 169 ; Bradford, ii. 30, 31. 



as it was the culminating point in our national career, it merits chap. 
in this place an extended discussion. The part taken by Mas- ^^_ 
sachusetts in effecting this separation has never been thor- 1776. 
oughly understood ; nor has full justice been done to the noble 
men who represented this province in the national councils — 
who were stigmatized at the time as " desperate adventurers," 
" bankrupts, attorneys, and men of desperate fortunes." 2 The 
idea of independence had for years been familiar to their 
minds ; and, both in public and in private, they had often and 
warmly spoken in its favor. 2 Nor is it surprising that they 
were convinced of the necessity of this measure. The ven- 
geance of the ministry had been aimed chiefly at Massachu- 
setts ; it was here that the struggle for freedom commenced ; 
and thus far, the movements of the war, with but very few 
exceptions, had been confined to these limits. The people of 
the north, likewise, who were of the Puritan stock, and who 
inherited the sturdy spirit of their ancestors, were more jealous 
of their liberties than their brethren in other parts. They 
had been trained to investigate constitutional principles ; they 

1 Letter of Rev. J. Duche, in Gray- 
don's Mems. 432, Force's Am. Ar- 
chives, i. 1216, and Sparks's Corresp. 
of the Rev. i. 452. See also Auto- 
biog. of J. Adams, in Works, ii. 512. 
" Mr, Cushing was a harmless kind 
of a man, but poor, and wholly de- 
pendent on his popularity for his sub- 
sistence. Mr. Samuel Adams was a 
very artful, designing man, but des- 
perately poor, and wholly dependent 
on his popularity with the lowest vul- 
gar for his living. John Adams and 
Mr. Paine were two young lawyers, 
of no great talents, reputation, or 
weight, who had no other means of 
raising themselves into consequence 
than by courting popularity." 

2 Comp. Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 13. 
" Many of the principal gentlemen in 
the Massachusetts have long been 
urging their delegates at Congress to 
bring forward independency — the 

more so from a persuasion that re- 
sistance unto blood having been made 
against the governmental measures, 
the British spirit will never be quieted 
with any thing short of those conces- 
sions and satisfactions which Ameri- 
cans never make." The views of 
Samuel Adams, one of the earliest 
and most zealous advocates of inde- 
pendence, are well known. The views 
of J. Adams may be gathered from 
his Diary, in Works, ii. 411-413, and 
from his intercepted letters, in the 
Boston Gazette for Jan. 1, 1776, ap- 
proved by Reed in his letter of Aug. 
21, 1775, to Thomas Bradford, in 
Reed's Reed, i. 118. For the views 
of Joseph Hawley and Elbridge Ger- 
ry, see Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 161, 
164, 174, 175. Articles in favor of 
independence were published in the 
Boston Gazette for April 15 and 29, 



chap, were sensitive to every encroachment upon their rights ; and 
^_^J^ the painful experience through which they had passed, the 
1776. controversies they had held with the advisers of the king, 
the physical resistance into which they had been forced, 
the sufferings they had endured, the stimulus which had been 
given to their resentments and animosities, the feelings of 
wounded pride which had been engendered, and the conscious- 
ness that they were acting not only for themselves, but for 
those who should come after them, in opposing the policy of 
their misguided sovereign, — all these had prepared them to 
look at things differently from many of their contemporaries, 
and to feel that nothing short of actual independence could 
deliver them from the evils to which they had been subjected, 
which affected as well the prosperity of the whole country as 
of the particular part which had hitherto suffered most. 1 

At the south a different spirit prevailed ; and not only in 
Pennsylvania, 2 the home of the Quakers, but " in all the Mid- 
dle and Southern States," the "idea of independence" was, for 
a long time, as " unpalatable as the stamp act itself." 3 In Yir- 

1 It should be borne in mind, in sylvania, see Reed's Reed, i. 151 et 
reading these statements, that the idea seq., and Sparks's Corresp. of the 
of independence was forced upon the Rev. i. 163. " Notwithstanding," 
statesmen of Massachusetts. Hence says Reed, " the act of Parliament tor 

' President Hancock, in a letter to Gov- seizing our property, and a thousand 
ernor Trumbull, of Connecticut, April other proofs of a bitter and irrecon- 
30, 1776, in Trumbull MS. Letter cilable spirit, there is a strange re- 
Book B, 47, very truly says, " The luctance in the minds of many to cut 
unprepared state of the colonies on the knot which ties us to Great Brit- 
the commencement of the war, and am, particularly in this colony and to 
the almost total want of every thing the southward." Thomas M'Kean, 
necessary to carry it on, are the true however, Letter to J. Adams, Sept. 
sources from whence all our difficul- 28, 1813, hi Adams's Works, x. 73- 
ties have proceeded. This fact, how- 75, while he admits that " a large ma- 
ever, furnishes a most striking proof jority of the representatives and civil 
of the weakness or wickedness of officers " were in the opposition, 
those who charge them with an ori- doubts whether the people, as a whole, 
ginal intention of withdrawing from sympathized with them in their views, 
the government of Great Britain, and The Quakers, he says, were the most 
erecting an independent empire. Had violent. " They gave great trouble 
such a scheme been formed, the most to the whigs, but were kept under by 
warlike preparations would then have fear, as well as by superior numbers." 
been necessary to eifect it." 3 J. Adams's Autobiog. in Works, 

2 On the state of affairs in Penn- ii. 512, note. " I am exceedingly sur 



ginia, especially, notwithstanding there were honorable excep- chap. 
tions to the remark, and a magnanimous spirit prevailed among ^J^ 
the intelligent, the inhabitants, as a body, were exceedingly 1776. 
"proud of their ancient dominion," and "thought they had a 
ris-ht to take the lead ; " and the Southern and Middle States 
were " too much disposed to yield it to them." * Besides, the 

prised," wrote Washington to Reed, 
April 15, 1776, in Sparks's Washing- 
ton, iiL 357, and Reed's Reed, i. 189, 
" to hear of the divisions and parties 
which prevail with you, and in the 
southern colonies. These are the 
shelves we have to avoid, or our bark 
will split and tumble to pieces. Here 
lies our great danger, and I almost 
tremble when I think of this rock. 
Nothing but disunion can hurt our 
cause. This will ruin it, if great pru- 
dence, temper, and moderation are 
not mixed in our counsels." For the 
position of New York, see Adams's 
Works, ii. 347, and ix. 407, 411; 
Sparks's Life of Gouverneur Morris, 
i. 37, 90, 109-112. "New York," 
wrote J. Adams, June 22, 1776, "is 
likely to have the honor of being the 
very last of all in imbibing the gen- 
uine principles and the true system of 
American policy. Perhaps she will 
never entertain them at all." The 
Assembly of New Jersey, in Novem- 
ber, 1775, instructed their delegates 
to oppose any proposition aiming at 
independence ; nor was it until after 
the subject had been for some time 
under discussion in Congress that she 
changed her views. Mulford's New 
Jersey, 409, 410. For the position 
of Delaware, see Letter of T. M'Kean 
to J. Adams, Nov. 15, 1813, in Ad- 
ams's Works, x. 80-82. " A major- 
ity of this state were unquestionably 
against the independence of America; 
but the most sensible of the Episco- 
palians, the Baptists and Quakers, and 
the Presbyterians, with very few ex- 
ceptions, prevailed against them, as 
they believed they would be overpow- 
ered, with the help of the other col- 
onies, if they resisted." The Mary- 
land convention, in December, 1775, 

instructed their delegates to oppose 
the question of independence ; but 
Mr. Chase, who favored the measure, 
on his return home, procured county 
instructions to the members, by which 
they were induced to change their 
vote ; and on the 28th of June he 
wrote from Annapolis, " I am this mo- 
ment from the House, to procure an 
express to follow the post with an 
unanimous vote of our convention for 
independence." Gordon's Am. Rev. 
ii. 87 ; Andrews's Am. Rev. ii. 209 ; 
Hildreth's U. S. iii. 136. " The North 
Carolinians," says Gordon, Am. Rev. 
ii. 78, "were at one time violent 
against a separation from Great Brit- 
ain ; a delegate in their convention 
mentioning independence, the cry was, 
' Treason ! treason ! ' and he was called 
to order." This colony, however, soon 
changed its course, and was one of the 
first to vote for independence. See 
farther on. South Carolina was like- 
wise opposed to the declaration of in- 
dependence ; nor was it until the last 
moment that the delegates from that 
colony consented to cast their votes 
in its favor,. Jefferson's Works, i. 18. 
1 Note to Autobiog. of J. Adams, 
in Works, ii. 512, 513. That Virginia 
was at first opposed to independence 
is evident from the letter of Reed to 
Washington, March 15, 1776, in 
Reed's Reed, i. 173. " It is said the 
Virginians are so alarmed with the 
idea of independence, that they have 
sent Mr. Braxton on purpose to turn 
the vote of that colony, if any ques- 
tion on that subject should come be- 
fore Congress." Washington also 
wrote to Reed, April 1, 1776, in 
Reed's Reed, i. 180, " My country- 
men, I know, from their form of gov- 
ernment, and steady attachment here- 



chap, pressure of the war had been less seriously felt at the south 
^^ than at the north ; the habits of the people were strikingly 
1776. different ; their manners and customs were likewise peculiar ; 
their commercial relations were much less extensive ; they 
were "jealous of the republican spirit" of New England; 
their political principles were aristocratic ; the tendency of 
their past history had been to foster their attachment to mo- 
narchical institutions ; the stain of slavery was branded deeply 
into their internal policy ; and the current of their thoughts, 
and the maxims which prevailed among them, had generated 
less of that sensitiveness to external oppression which was felt 
by the descendants of the Puritan exiles, who were reluctant 
to compromise truth for peace. 1 

On this ground, and on this only, can the phenomena of 
the revolution be satisfactorily explained ; and to conceal 
the fact that local prejudices existed at the time, which 
powerfully affected the movements of parties, and whose influ- 
ence has widened and reached onward to our own days, 
would be to preclude the possibility of penetrating their 
movements, and to veil their conduct in perpetual obscurity. 2 

tofore to royalty, will come reluctant- 
ly into the idea of independency, but 
time and persecution bring many 
wonderful things to pass ; and by pri- 
vate letters which I have received from 
Virginia, I find 'Common Sense' is 
making a wonderful change in the 
minds of many men." Jefferson, also, 
Notes on Virginia, 177, ed. 1801, says 
that, in April, 1776, the legislators of 
Virginia did not think of independence. 
" Independence, and the establishment 
of a new form of government, were 
not even yet the objects of the people 
at large. One extract from the pam- 
phlet called Common Sense had ap- 
peared in the Virginia papers in Feb- 
ruary, and copies of the pamphlet it- 
self had got into a few hands. But 
the idea had not been opened to the 
mass of the people in April, much less 

can it be said that they had made up 
their minds in its favor." 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 91. In 
the respects alluded to in the text, 
there was a close political sympathy 
between New York and the south, vis- 
ible from the outset of the difficulties 
with the mother country. Comp. 
Hildreth's U. S. 2d Series', i. 38. 

2 " This conversation," says John 
Adams, alluding to one held with the 
delegates from Congress, "and the 
principles, facts, and motives suggest- 
ed in it, have given a color, complex- 
ion, and character to the whole policy 
of the United States from that day to 
this. Without it, Mr. Washington 
would never have commanded our ar- 
mies ; nor Mr. Jefferson have been the 
author of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence ; nor Mr. liichard Henry 


Let it not be inferred, however, that the spirit of liberty chap. 
was extinct at the south, and that none of her statesmen had ^^_ 
sympathy with the north. On the contrary, it is cheerfully 1776. 
acknowledged that there was an enlightened class who had 
broken loose from conventional restraints, and risen above the 
peculiarities of their position. Lee, and Henry, and Wythe, 
of Virginia, Gadsden, of South Carolina, and Chase, of Mary- 
land, with the Rutledges, and Lynch, and Jefferson, and others, 
should be ranked in this class ; l and even of those who were 
for moderate counsels, and who deprecated the supposed pre- 
cipitancy of their associates, many were open to argument and 
conviction, and yielded their preferences for the general good. 
Still, facts must be stated exactly as they stand ; and if there 
is occasion to regret that differences should have existed, and 
that difficulties should have arisen, there is occasion to rejoice 
that a conciliatory spirit adjusted these differences and sur- 
mounted these difficulties, so that, in the end, what was done 
was done harmoniously ; and concert of action was essentially* 
promoted by the willingness to concede, so far as was practi- 
cable, all that was local in favor of the general interests of 
the country. It will be understood, also, that it is not de- 
signed to reflect upon the patriotism of those whose caution 
led them to dread all measures tending to a separation from 
Great Britain, and who " suffered doubts and fears to triumph 
over hope ; " for, when the die was cast, and a return was 
impossible, even the prudent acquiesced cheerfully in the 
necessary measures for the public defence, and sacrificed read- 
ily their lives and fortunes for the liberties of America. A 
distinction should be made — and it is a broad one — between 
tories, who were hostile to liberty, and patriots, who differed 
only as to the best mode of securing it. 2 

Lee the mover of it; nor Mr. Chase Autobiog. in Works, ii. 51. 

the mover of foreign connections. If ' Autobiog. of J. Adams, in Works, 

I have ever had cause to repent any ii. 408, 409, 506 ; Lee's Lee, i. 168 ; 

part of this policy, that repentance has Wirt's Patrick Henry. 

been, and ever will be, unavailing." 2 Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 194, 195. 



The transfer of the theatre of war from the north to the 
south occurred at the most favorable juncture to forward the 
1776. views of the north with reference to independence. While 
Massachusetts alone was "the suffering state," and British 
fleets and armies threatened only the safety of the peninsula 
of Boston, the other states could not be expected to enter so 
deeply into the question as to the fate which awaited them ; 
but when New York was threatened, and Charleston, in South 
Carolina, and no one knew how soon the whole coast might 
be invested, the question, What will come next ? assumed a 
quite different aspect, and pressed itself closely upon the at- 
tention of all. 1 Hence, early in May, after John Adams had 
fruitlessly labored for months to accomplish the same object, 2 
May 10. a committee was appointed to prepare a resolution recom- 
mending to the people of the states to institute governments ; 
and this committee, of which Mr. Adams was one, draughted 
and reported a resolve, which, though opposed as "a ma- 
May 15: chine to fabricate independence," eventually passed, and " was 
considered on all hands, by men of understanding, as equiva- 
lent to a declaration of independence, though a formal dec- 
laration of it was still opposed by Mr. Dickinson and his 
party." 3 

1 " It has happened as I expected," 
wrote Reed to Washington, March 
23, 1776, in Reed's Reed, i. 17a, 
" that many who were impatient to 
have Howe drawn from Boston, are 
now alarmed •with the apprehension 
of the seat of war being removed to 
the middle colonies." 

2 Autobiog. in AVorks, ii. 506. 
" These, and such as these, were my 
constant and daily topics, sometimes of 
reasoning, and, no doubt, often of decla- 
mation, from the meeting of Congress, 
in the autumn of 1775, through the 
whole winter and spring of 1776." 
See also Corresp. in Works, ix. 391, 
401, Works, iii. 44-46. 

3 Autobiog. of J. Adams, in Works, 
ii. 510; Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 158, 

166 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 75, 7.6 ; 

Almon's Remembrancer, iii. 136 ; 
Stedman's Am. War, i. 188; Mar- 
shall's Washington, ii. 403 ; Curtis's 
Hist, of the Const, i. 39. It should 
be observed, however, that several of 
the colonies, imitating the example 
set by Massachusetts in 1775, had ap- 
plied to Congress for advice respecting 
the form of government it was expe- 
dient for them to adopt ; and it was 
recommended to them to call a " full 
and free representation of the people," 
and if, upon consultation, it should 
seem necessary, to establish a suita- 
ble form of government " during the 
maintenance of the present dispute." 
New Hampshire, (November 3, 1775,) 
South Carolina, (November 4,) and 



This, however, was but one point gained, though a point of chap. 
some importance. For the principal obstacle in the way of v _J^_ 
success, hitherto, had originated from the insecure tenures of 1776. 
liberty, and the hesitancy on the part of some of the provinces 
to assume into their own hands the conduct of their affairs. 
Massachusetts had for nearly a year acted independently of 
the officers of the crown ; but in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, 
the authority of the royal governors was still admitted, and 
in but few of the states had it been wholly repudiated. 1 The 
course taken by Massachusetts admitted of no mistake ; for 
the General Court, at their session in April, passed a resolve April 1. 
to alter the style of writs and other legal processes — substi- 
tuting " the people and government of Massachusetts " for 
George III. ; and, in dating official papers, the particular 
year of the king was omitted, and only the year of our Lord 
was mentioned. 2 Early in May, likewise, an order was passed May 10 

Virginia, (December 4,) received such 
advice, and prepared to act upon it — 
the first colony in January, the second 
in March, and the third in May, 1776. 
Jour. Cont. Cong. i. 215,' 219, 260; 
J. Adams's Corresp. in Works, ix. 
372 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 13 ; 
Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 99, 178; 
Hildreth's U. S. iii. 125, 127, 129 ; 
Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 36. The 
manoeuvre by which the people of 
New York were led to act favorably 
upon this question is detailed by Gor- 
don, Am. .Rev. ii. 74, 75. See also 
Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, ix. 

1 On the 9th of November, 1775, 
the Assembly of Pennsylvania in- 
structed their delegates to " dissent 
from and utterly reject any proposi- 
tions, should such be made, that may 
cause or lead to a separation from our 
mother country, or a change in the 
form of this government ; " and, in 
May, 1776, the Assembly withdrew 
from its union with Congress in con- 
sequence of instructions to their dele- 
gates upon the resolve of May 1 5, for 
suppressing all authority derived from 
VOL. III. 7 

the crown of Great Britain in the 
United Colonies. Upon this, a con- 
vention of the people was called, May 
20, at which Bayard and Roberdeau 
were particularly active in intimating 
their belief that the Assembly had 
been dragged into a compliance with 
most of the resolutions of Congress, 
from fear of a provincial convention ; 
hence the deputies reversed their for- 
mer decision, and expressed, June 24, 
their willingness to come into a vote 
of Congress declaring the United Col- 
onies free and independent states. 
Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 86 ; Reed's 
Reed, i. 155, especially the extract 
from the Morris MSS. in ibid, note ; 
Hildreth's U. S. iii. 125 ; Boston Gaz. 
for April 15 and July 1, 1776; Aus- 
tin's Life of Gerry, i. 193 ; Niles's 
Principles and Acts of the Rev. 252. 

2 Jour. House of Rep. for 1776 ; 
Bradford, ii, 106. Hildreth, Hist.'U., 
S. iii. 127, says New Hampshire set 
the first example of assumption of 
government in January, 1776; but 
he overlooks the fact that Massachu- 
setts had already taken the same step. 


chap, and published, by which the people of the several towns in the 

^^^ province were advised to give instructions to their respective 

1776. representatives, to be chosen for the following political year, 

on the subject of independence. 1 It is not contended that this 

was the first instance in which such a proposition was publicly 

Apr. 26. made ; for North Carolina had, two weeks before, authorized 
her delegates to join with the other colonies in declaring 

May 6 independence ; and Rhode Island and Connecticut had indi- 
cated their inclination by dispensing with the oath of alle- 

jun. 14. giance to the king, though a month elapsed before the Con- 
necticut Assembly instructed their delegates to vote for in- 
dependence. 2 

The returns from the towns of Massachusetts were highly 
encouraging, and in nearly every instance the instructions to 
their representatives were favorable to an explicit declaration 
of independence. 3 But, while this question was pending here, 
June, three great measures were brought before Congress, and three 
committees were appointed — the first for preparing a decla- 
ration of independence, the second for reporting a plan of a 
treaty to be proposed to France, and the third to digest a 
system of articles of confederation to be proposed to the 
states. 4 The committee on the declaration of independence 
consisted of Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, John Adams, of 
Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, Roger 
Sherman, of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston, of New 
York. 5 The committee to draught a treaty with France con- 
sisted of John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, John Adams, of 

1 Boston Gazette for May 13, 1776; different towns, and comp. Jour. H. 
Jour. House of Rep. for 1776; Al- of R. for 1776, and Austin's Life of 
mon's Remembrancer, iii. 136, 232 ; Gerry, i. 182, 186. 

Bradford, ii. 104. 4 Autobiog. of J. Adams, in Works, 

2 Trumbull MS. v. 209, 210; ii. 5 10 ; Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. 
Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 192, i. 221. 

193 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 178, 5 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 197; Auto- 

181, 193, 194; Hildreth's U. S. iii. biog. of J. Adams, in Works, ii. 510, 

131, 132. 511 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 78. 

3 See the published histories of the 


Massachusetts, Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia, and Robert chap. 
Morris, of Pennsylvania ; l and the committee on the articles ^™^ 
of confederation consisted of Josiah Bartlett, of New Hamp- 1776. 
shire, Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, Stephen Hopkins, of 
Rhode Island, Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, Robert R. 
Livingston, of New York, John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, 
Thomas M'Kean, of Delaware, Thomas Stone, of Maryland, 
Thomas Nelson, of Virginia, Joseph Hewes, of North Caro- 
lina, Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, and Button Gwin- 
nett, of Georgia. 2 

Without doubt, the unanimity which now began to prevail 
was partly promoted by the action of Parliament in passing N 177 2' 
the bill interdicting all trade and intercourse with the thir- 
teen United Colonies, and declaring the property of Ameri- 
cans, whether in ships or goods, on the high seas or in harbor, 
" to be forfeited to the captors, being the officers and crews 
of his majesty's ships of war," and that " the masters, crews, 
and other persons found on board captured American vessels, 
should be entered on board his majesty's vessels of war, and 
there considered to be in his majesty's service, to all intents 
and purposes as if they had entered of their own accord." 3 

1 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. ; Gordon's posed; and in July, 1775, Dr. Frank- 
Am. Rev. ii. 78 ; Autobiog. of J. Ad- lin reported a sketch, which was de- 
ams, in Works, ii. 516. bated in Congress, and which formed 

2 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 197, 198 ; the leading features of the articles 
J. Adams's Works, ii. 492, note. To afterwards adopted. Impartial Hist, 
this committee Francis Hopkinson of the War, App. 18-20; Diplomacy 
was added June 28 ; and a report, in of the U. S. 3 ; Austin's Life of Ger- 
a draught of twenty articles, was made ry, i. 249. An article entitled " Pro- 
July 12, debated, and laid over from posals for a Confederation of the 
time to time until November 15, 1777, United Colonies " was also published in 
when, having been reduced to thirteen, the Boston Gazette for April 22, 1776. 
they were adopted, and sent to the 3 Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 282, 283. 
colonies for approval or rejection ; but The opposition to this bill in the 
the confederation was not fully estab- House of Commons was quite spirit- 
lished until March, 1781. Trumbull ed; and, in particular, the clause by 
MS. Letter Book B, 146, 149; Jour, which persons taken on board the 
Cont. Cong. iii. 396, 401; Niles's American vessels were indiscriminate- 
Principles and Acts of the Rev. 104 ly compelled to serve as common sail- 
et seq. ; Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. ors in British ships of war was con- 
chap, v. On the 20th of May, 1775, demned as a "refinement of tyranny 
" articles of confederation " were pro- worse than death." 


chap. This law arrived in the colonies about the time of the evacua- 
^JO*^ tion of Boston ; and the effects resulting from it were such 
1776. as had been predicted by its opposers. It " not only united 
' the colonies in resisting Great Britain, but produced a favora- 
ble opinion of independence in the minds of thousands who 
previously reprobated that measure." From New Hampshire 
to Georgia it was " considered as a legal discharge from their 
allegiance to their native sovereign." And " what was want- 
ing to produce a decided majority of the party for breaking 
off all connection with Great Britain was speedily obtained 
from the irritation excited by the hiring of foreign troops to 
fight against the colonists." This measure was " nearly coin- 
cident with the ratification of the prohibitory law just men- 
tioned ; and intelligence of both arrived in the colonies about 
the same time." l " We now know," wrote a citizen of emi- 
nence in Philadelphia to his friend, " who the commissioners 
are, and their numbers, viz. : Messrs. the Hessians, Brunswick- 
ers, Waldeckers, English, Scotch, and Irish. This gives the 
coup de grace to the British and American connection. It has 
already wrought wonders in this city. Conversions have 
been more rapid than under Mr. Whitefield. The Pennsylva- 
nia Farmer, Mr. Dickinson, told me yesterday, in the field, that 
his sentiments were changed ; he had been desirous of keep- 

1 Impartial Hist, of the War, 291, the propriety of employing foreign 

292, note ; Boston Gazette for June troops against the Americans. The 

17, 1776 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 56- measure was supported on the grounds 

58 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 285 ; Bis- of the necessity of prosecuting the 

sett's Hist. Eng. i. 458; Lee's Lee, war, and the impracticability of rais- 

i. 163 ; Corresp. of J. Adams, in ing a sufficient number of domestic 

Works, ix. 383 ; Letter of Lord Stir- levies. It was also urged that " for- 

ling, March 11, 1776, in Sparks's Cor- eign troops, inspired with the military 

resp. of the Rev. i. 172. The treaties maxims and ideas of implicit submis- 

which had been concluded with the si on, would be less apt to be biased 

Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, the Duke by that false lenity which native sol- 

of Brunswick, and the hereditary diers might indulge at the expense of 

prince of Hesse Cassel, for hiring the national interest." For the views 

17,000 of their troops to the King of of Lord Mahon on the employment 

Great Britain, were laid before the of these troops, see his Hist. Eng. vi. 

Commons February 29, 1776, and 86, 87. 
gave rise to an interesting debate on 


ing the door open as long as possible, and was now convinced chap. 

that nothing was expected from our enemies but slavery." x ^ 

Indeed, in the sessions of Parliament between the twenty- 1775. 
sixth of October, 1775, and the twentv-third of May, 1776, to 

May 23 

the " ultimate plan of reducing the colonies was completely 1776. ' 
fixed." The Americans were declared to be out of the royal 
protection ; commerce was prohibited with them ; their per- 
sons and property were subjected to seizure ; and, to crown 
the whole, a band of foreign mercenaries was employed, by 
the authority of the English government, to effect their sub- 
jugation. 2 Is it surprising that such measures should have 
led to the conviction that the time for bolder action had 
come, and that, abandoned by their king, put out of his pro- 
tection, declared to be in a state of open rebellion, and treated 
as enemies, the political compact which had hitherto united 
them to Great Britain should have been considered as no 
longer binding, and the people as at liberty to take care of the 
republic that it sustained no damage ? ? 

But that which, more than all else, perhaps, confirmed them 
in the conviction that longer delay would be hazardous, if not 
suicidal, was the failure of the attempt of the Duke of Graf- 
ton to prevent the continuance of hostilities. This amiable Mar.H. 
nobleman, who to the qualities of integrity, sincerity, and 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 77. John than the convictions of his own judg- 

Adams, Diary in Works, ii. 408, inti- ment. 

mates that " the Quakers had intimi- ' 2 " It is thought," says Gordon, 

dated Mr. Dickinson's mother and Am. Rev. ii. 43, " that a treaty with 

wife, who were continually distressing the court of Petersburg, for 20,000 

him with their remonstrances," and Russians, was at one time, the last 

that his mother said to him, " John- year, in considerable forwardness, but 

ny, you will be hanged ; your estate that the extreme distance of the ser- 

will be forfeited and confiscated ; you vice, the difficulty of recall, and the 

will leave your excellent wife a widow, critical state of public affairs through 

and your charming children orphans, Europe rendered it abortive, after the 

beggars, and infamous." This may be most sanguine hopes of success." See 

true, yet it must be conceded that the also Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 

honesty of Mr. Dickinson stands unim- 126. 

peached ; nor does it seem very likely 3 " JVe quid detrimenti respublica 

that one of his ability should, have capiat." 
been influenced in his course by other 


chap, intellectual ability joined a reverent regard for the liberties 

^^_ of America, as well as for the honor and dignity of England, 

1776. moved that an address should be presented to the throne, re- 
Mar. 11. . 

questing that, in order to stop the further effusion of blood, and 

to manifest the sincere desire of king and Parliament to restore 
peace and redress grievances, a proclamation might be issued, 
declaring that, if the colonies should present a petition to the 
commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in America, or to 
the commissioners appointed for such purposes, setting forth 
what they considered to be their just rights and real griev- 
ances, the king would consent to a suspension of arms, and 
refer their petition to Parliament, where they might be confi- 
dent it would be duly considered and answered. But this 
proposition, however well meant, was too unpalatable to the 
ministry to admit of its adoption. The reasoning of its 
friends was as water spilled on the ground ; and it was reject- 
ed by a majority of three to one. 1 

This defeat checked for a time all further attempts for con- 
ciliatory measures in either House of Parliament ; and though 
the lord mayor, aldermen, and commons of the city of London 
still continued their endeavors, in a decent address which they 
Mar 22. presented to his majesty, the answer was unfavorable ; 2 and 
the departure of Commodore Hotham in the Preston, with all 
the transports, 3 having on board the first division of Hessians, 
sent over to spread devastation in America, was too palpable 
a proof of the inflexibility of the ministry, and of their deter- 
mination at all hazards to carry out their schemes, to admit 

1 Stedman's Am. War, i. 164 ; unjustifiable resistance to the consti- 
Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 59 ; Bissett's tutional authority of this kingdom ; 
Hist. Eng. i. 459. and I shall be ready and happy to al- 

2 This address was published in the leviate those miseries by acts of mer- 
Boston Gazette for June 17, 1776, cy and clemency, whenever that au- 
\vith the reply of the king, in which thority is established, and the now 
he says, " I deplore, with the deepest existing rebellion is at an end." 
concern, the miseries which a great 3 Letter of June 25, 1776, in Al- 
part of my subjects in North America mon's Remembrancer, iii. 119. 

have brought upon themselves by an 


of question on the part of those, if such there were, who still chap. 
fondly trusted in the clemency of the king, and who could not ^^ 
persuade themselves that all overtures, however reasonable, 1776. 
would be peremptorily rejected. Both the people of England 
and the people of America had much yet to learn relative to 
the persistency with which misguided statesmen adhere to 
their schemes of oppression, and the delusion and blindness 
which seem to possess them when once they have surrendered 
themselves to the dominion of their passions. The moral 
obstacles thus interposed in the way of an amicable adjustment 
of difficulties are often insuperable ; and when otherwise, can 
only be overcome by a radical change in the springs of action, 
or by such overwhelming calamities as cause even the most 
hardened to pause in their career, and to tremble, when it is 
too late, at the fatal consequences of their own folly. 1 

The question of the independence of the colonies was now 
discussed in all quarters more earnestly than ever ; and prep- 
arations were making, by the Assemblies of the different col- 
onies, not only to ascertain the views of the people, but the 
lengths to which they were willing to go, in case independence 
should be declared. 2 

1 Lord George Germaine to Gen. prised, while many others really are, 
Howe, March 28 and April 27, 1776. and some affect to be, astonished at 

2 " The votes of the Congress," the phenomenon." Joseph Galloway, 
wrote J. Adams to H. Knox, June 2, in his examination before the House 
1776, Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, of Commons, in 1779, gave his views 
ix. 385, " and the proceedings of the of the progress of independence in the 
colonies separately, must, before this following words : " I do not believe, 
time, have convinced you that this is from the best knowledge I have of the 
the sense of America, with infinitely state of America at that time, that one 
greater unanimity than could have fifth of the people had independence 
been credited by many people a few in view. I wish, when I give an opin- 
months ago. Those few persons, in- ion, always to give my reasons for it. 
deed, who have attended closely to The progress of the spirit of inde- 
the proceedings of the several colo- pendence was very gradual. So early 
nies for a number of years past, and as the year 1754, there were men in 
reflected deeply upon the causes of America — I may say, in the towns 
this mighty contest, have foreseen that of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, 
such an unanimity would take place and Williamsburg — who held inde- 
as soon as a separation should become pendence in prospect, and who were 
necessary. These are not at all sur- determined to seize any opportunity 



Virginia followed Massachusetts in recommending measures 
" towards dissolving the connection between America and 
1776. Great Britain totally, finally, and irrevocably ; v x and, on 
May 15. the same day that the resolve was passed by the General Con 
gress recommending to the people of the states to institute 
governments, Mr. Cary, from the committee of the whole 
House on the state of the colony, reported a preamble and 
resolutions, which were unanimously adopted, instructing the 
delegates from that colony in the General Congress " to pro- 
pose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies 
free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to, 
or dependence upon, the crown or Parliament of Great Brit- 
ain ; and that they give the assent of this colony to such dec- 

that offered to promote it, by procur- 
ing additional persons to their num- 
ber. These men, when the stamp act 
was passed, made a stalking horse, or 
screen, of the gentlemen of the law in 
every part of America to cover then- 
designs, and to sound the trumpet of 
opposition against government, but 
avowed that their conduct was on 
the ground of obtaining a redress of 
American grievances, and not with a 
design to separate the two countries. 
Upon this ground, I am confident, the 
gentlemen of the law acted. When 
the tea act was passed, they made the 
same use of the merchants, who were 
smugglers in America, as they had 
done of the lawyers before — still de- 
claring that they meant not independ- 
ence. So late as the sitting of Con- 
gress in 1774, the same men, when 
charged with it in Congress, and whilst 
they held it tenaciously and religious- 
ly in their hearts, they almost to a de- 
gree of profanity denied it with their 
tongues. And all this was done on 
their knowledge that the great bulk 
of the people of North America were 
averse to independence. If we look 
at the resolves of Congress, down al- 
most to the very period of their dec- 
laration of independence, we shall find 
the same language, the same pretence 
of obtaining a redress of grievances, 

held out to the people. And, for the 
same reason, at the very time they 
declared independence, they gave out 
that it was not with a view to a total 
separation of the two countries, but 
from necessity; because, unless they 
declared independence, the powers of 
Europe would not trade with them, 
and they were in great distress for 
want of a great many foreign necessa- 
ries. So that, from all these circum- 
stances, I am convinced that not one 
fifth part of the people had independ- 
ence in view." The Examination of 
Galloway was printed at London, in 
1779, in a pamphlet of 85 pages. 

1 Instructions to R. C. Nichols and 
W. Norvall, Esquires, in Wirt's Pat- 
rick Henry, 210, 211. "Virginia," 
wrote Elbridge Gerry to James War- 
ren, May 1, 1776, "is always to be 
depended upon ; and so fine a spirit 
prevails among them, that unless you 
send some of your cool patriots among 
them, they may be for declaring inde- 
pendency before Congress is ready." 
Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 198. It 
should be remembered, however, that 
only a short time before a quite dif- 
ferent spirit prevailed in that colony ; 
and the change was wrought chiefly 
by the eloquence of Henry, and Jef- 
ferson, and Lee, and others. 


laration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper chap. 
and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, ^^_ 
and a confederation of the colonies, at such time, and in the 1776. 
manner, as to them shall seem best." l Upon the passage of 
this resolve, Washington wrote, " I am very glad to find that May 31 
the Virginia convention have passed so noble a vote, and with 
so much unanimity. Things have come to such a pass now as 
to convince us that we have nothing more to expect from the 
justice of Great Britain ; also, that she is capable of the most 
delusive arts ; for I am satisfied that no commissioners ever 
were designed, except Hessians and other foreigners, and that 
the idea was only to deceive and throw us oif our guard. 
The first has been too effectually accomplished ; as many mem- 
bers of Congress — in short, the representatives of whole 
provinces — are still feeding themselves upon the dainty food 
of reconciliation ; and, though they will not allow that the 
expectation of it has any influence upon their judgment with 
respect to their preparations for defence, it is but too obvious 
that it has an operation upon every part of their conduct, and 
is a clog to their proceedings." 2 

The ice thus broken by the leading colony at the south, the 
other colonies had less hesitancy in following the example 

1 Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, lutions, which were " universally re- 
ix. 374, 389 ; Force's Am. Archives, garded as the only door which will 
vi. 1524 ; Sparks's Corresp. of the lead to safety and prosperity," " some 
Rev. i. 202 ; Lee's Lee, i. 168 ; Wirt's gentlemen," we are told, " made a 
Patrick Henry, 211, 213; Jefferson's handsome collection for the purpose 
Works, i. 12 ; Almon's Remembran- of treating the soldiery " the next day ; 
cer, iii. 222 ; Niles's Principles and and " during the whole of this cere- 
Acts of the Rev. 251, 252 ; Hildreth's mony, the Union Flag of the Amer- 
U. S. iii. 132. A proviso was attached ican States waved upon the Capitol, 
to these resolutions, " that the power the soldiers partook of the refresh- 
of forming government for, and the ments prepared for them by the affec- 
regulation of, the internal concerns of tion of their countrymen, and the 
each colony, be left to the respective evening concluded with illuminations 
colonial legislatures ; " and this doc- and other demonstrations of joy — 
trine of state rights, thus suggested, every one seeming pleased that the 
was never lost sight of by any of the domination of Great Britain was now 
colonies. at an end." Niles's Principles and 

2 Sparks's Washington, iii. 403. Acts of the Rev. 252. 
Upon the adoption of these reso- 


chap, which had been set. Some of them, indeed, were still averse 
s- ^_ v ^ w to the idea of independence, and so remained throughout the 
1776. discussion upon the subject ; but experience, which proves the 
best counsellor in such cases, eventually led to a change in 
their views, and to greater unanimity in the national councils. 
In accordance with the instructions which had been given 
for that purpose, the preliminary motion relative to independ- 
June 7. ence was submitted in due form, on the seventh of June, by 
Richard Henry Lee, as the head of the delegation from Vir- 
ginia, " amidst the hesitation of some colonies, the foreseen 
opposition of many able men of the Congress, the malice of 
the tories, and the vengeance of the ministry." The words of 
his motion were, " that these United Colonies are, and of right 
ought to be, free and independent states ; and that all political 
connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and 
ought to be, totally dissolved ; " 1 and John Adams, who had 
longed for this hour to arrive, seconded the motion with hearty 
good will. Thus the question was fairly before the House ; but 
as that body was obliged, at the time, to attend to some other 
business, and as the measure proposed was of " fearful hazard 
and awful responsibility," and " it could not be concealed, nor 
was it attempted to be denied, that the act which was required 
by their country might be fatal to themselves," further delib- 
eration was deferred until the next day ; and the members 
were enjoined " to attend punctually at ten o'clock, in order to 
take the same into their consideration." 2 

1 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 194, 195; is entered on the journal" — the 

Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 340 ; Lee's Lee, name of the mover not being given. 

i. 169; Jefferson's Works, i. .12, 118; Lee's Lee, i. 170. 
Marshall's Washington, ii. 409 ; Aus- 2 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 195 ; Jef- 

tin's Life of Gerry, i. 196; Curtis's ferson's Works, i. 12, 118; Austin's 

Hist, of the Const, i. 49. " That it Life of Gerry, i. 168, 196. " They 

was the opinion of Congress that the could not but feel that while, on the 

member who made the first motion one hand, the establishing of a new 

on the subject of independence woidd nation would insure their imperisha- 

certainly be exposed to personal and ble glory, the result of an abortive 

imminent danger, may be inferred attempt to sever the connection of 

from the manner in which the motion the colonies with the mother country 


■ At the appointed hour the Congress assembled ; and, hav- chap. 
ing resolved themselves into a committee of the whole, the ^J^^ 
motion of the previous day was debated with closed doors. 1776. 
"Who were the speakers on this memorable occasion, and what 
was said by them, we have but slight means of determining, 
as no official report of their proceedings has been published. 1 
As the result, however, after considerable discussion, the pres- 
ident resumed the chair ; and Mr. Harrison reported that 
" the committee having taken into consideration the matter 
to them referred, but not having come to any resolutions, they 
directed him to move for leave to sit ao'ain on Monday ; " and 
it was accordingly " resolved that the Congress will, on Mon- 
day next, at ten o'clock, resolve themselves into a committee 
of the whole, to take into further consideration the resolutions 
referred to them.' 7 2 

Monday came, and with it the business which for more than Jun. 10. 
a month was to engross the attention of the American people. 
The deliberative assembly of the colonies, which was the na- 
tional forum, was once more resolved into a committee of the 
whole ; and the question which involved the liberties of a 
continent came before them for discussion. The proceedings 
even of this day are- but imperfectly known, for no full report 
of the debates was taken ; 3 but from scattered hints, gleaned 

would ruin their constituents, and independence ; but it appeared to me 

subject themselves to the disgrace and very different from that which you and 

penalty of treason." I heard. Dr. Witherspoon has pub- 

1 J. Adams to T. M'Kean, July 30, lished speeches, which he wrote be- 

1815, and M'Kean's Reply, Nov. 15, forehand, and delivered memoriter, as 

1815, in Adams's Works, x. 171, 177 ; he did his sermons. But these, I be- 

Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 188. "Who," lieve,were the only speeches commit- 

asks Mr. Adams, " shall write the his- ted to writing. The orations, while I 

tory of the American revolution? was in Congress, from 1774 to 1778, 

Who can write it ? Who will ever be appeared to me universally extempo- 

able to write it ? The most essential raneous ; and I have never heard of 

documents, the debates and delibera- any committed to writing, before or 

tions in Congress from 1774 to 1783, after delivery." 

were all in secret, and are now lost 2 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 195 ; Lee's 

forever. Mr. Dickinson printed a Lee, i. 170. 

speech, which he said he made in 3 " The Congress of the revolu- 

Congress against the declaration of tion," says Mr. Webster, in Ins Eulo- 


chap, from different sources, it appears that the speeches were ani- 
mated, and that the ground covered by the resolution was 
thoroughly surveyed. The speakers in favor of the resolution 
were John Adams, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, and 
others ; and those against it were James Wilson, Robert R. 
Livingston, Edward Rutledge, John Dickinson, and others. 1 
No one opposed the measure as impolitic and improper at all 
times, but as inexpedient at that time ; 2 and the leading argu- 
ments against its adoption were, that the people of the mid- 
dle colonies — particularly Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylva- 
nia, the Jerseys, and New York — were " not yet ripe for 
bidding adieu to British connection, but that they were fast 
ripening, and in a short time would join in the general voice 
of America ; " that some of these colonies had " expressly for- 
bidden their delegates to consent to such a declaration, and 
others had given no instructions, and consequently no powers, 
to give such consent ; " that " if the delegates of any particu- 
lar colony had no power to declare such colony independent, 
the others could not declare it for them, the colonies being as 
yet perfectly independent of each other ; " that the Assemblies 
of the dissenting colonies were, or soon would be, sitting, and 
would probably take up the question of independence, and 
declare to their delegates the voice of their state ; that, " if 
such a declaration should now be agreed to, these delegates 
must retire, and possibly their colonies might secede from the 

gy on Adams and Jefferson, p. 32, the House." Austin's Life of Gerry, 

" sat with closed doors, and no report i. 188. Mr. Jefferson likewise pre- 

of its debates was ever taken. The served some minutes, which have since 

discussion, therefore, which accompa- been published in the first volume of 

nied this great measure, has never his collected works. The notes of 

been preserved, except in memory Mr. Adams are also contained in his 

and by tradition." Mr. Gerry, it works. 

seems, preserved some notes and frag- l Jefferson's "Works, i. 12,14. 
ments among his papers ; but, says his 2 Lee's Lee, i. 171, on the author- 
biographer, they were " much too ity of a conversation with Governor 
loose and imperfect to warrant the Johnson, of Maryland, then a mem- 
transcript of a speech, either delivered ber of the Congress. 
by himself or any other member of 


country more than could be compensated by any foreign alii- ^^L 
ance ; that, in the event of a division, " foreign powers would 1776. 
either refuse to join themselves to our fortunes, or, having us 
so much in their power as that desperate declaration would 
make us, they would insist on terms proportionably more hard 
and prejudicial ; " that " France and Spain had reason to be 
jealous of that rising power which would one day certainly 
strip them of their American possessions/' and " it was more 
likely they should form a connection with the British court, 
who, if they should find themselves unable otherwise to extri- 
cate themselves from their difficulties, would agree to a parti- 
tion of our territories, — restoring Canada to France, and the 
Floridas to Spain, — to accomplish for themselves a recovery 
of those colonies ; " that it would not be long before certain 
information would be received of the disposition of the French 
court from the agents sent to Paris for that purpose, and should 
it be favorable, there would then be reason to expect an alli- 
ance on better terms, which should be settled beforehand ; 
and, finally, that the want of money, of the munitions of war, 
and of disciplined and efficient troops, on the part of the col- 
onies, with the power and strength of Great Britain by sea 
and land, were reasons of themselves sufficiently strong to 
justify delay, until further arrangements could be made for 
conducting the war upon more equal terms. 1 

On the other hand, it was argued, that the question was not 
whether, by a declaration of independence, we should make 
ourselves what we were not, but whether we should declare a 
fact already existing ; that we had always been independent 
of the people and Parliament of England, and as to the king, 
allegiance to him had been dissolved by his assent to the, 
recent act declaring the colonies out of his protection ; that 
there were only two colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland, 

1 Jefferson's Works, i. 12-14 ; Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, ix. 400. 


chap, whose delegates were absolutely tied up, and these had, by 
IIL their instructions, only reserved a right of confirming or re- 
1776. jecting the measure ; that the people were waiting for Con- 
gress to lead the way ; that they were in favor of the measure, 
though the instructions given by some of their representatives 
were not ; that the voice of the people could not be absolutely 
inferred from the voice of the representatives, as peculiar 
circumstances had originated the instructions which had been 
given to them ; that it would be " vain to wait either weeks 
or months for perfect unanimity, since it was impossible that 
all men should ever become of one sentiment on any occa- 
sion ; " that " the conduct of some colonies, from the begin- 
ning of this contest, had given reason to suspect it was their 
settled policy to keep in the rear of the confederacy, that 
their particular prospects might be better #even in the worst 
event ; M that therefore " it was necessary for those colonies 
who had thrown themselves forward, and hazarded all from 
the beginning, to come forward now also, and put all again 
to their own hazard ; " that " the history of the Dutch revolu- 
tion, in which three states only confederated at first, proved 
that a secession of some colonies would not be so dangerous 
as some apprehended ; ■ ■ that " a declaration of independence 
alone could render it consistent with European delicacy for 
European powers to treat with us, or even to receive an 
ambassador from us ; " that though France and Spain might 
be jealous of our rising power, it would be more formidable 
with the addition of Great Britain, and hence it would be for 
their interest to prevent such a coalition ; that it would be 
idle to lose time in settling the terms of alliance until the 
alliance itself had been fully determined upon ; and that it 
% was necessary to proceed at once to open a trade with other 
nations, to supply our own people with clothes and money. 1 
It would, doubtless, be interesting to every American citi- 

1 Jefferson's Works, i. 14-17. 



zen to be in possession of a full report of the debate on this chap. 
occasion ; and it is a matter of regret that so little is known ^^ 
of the deliberations of that body which was assembled in 1776. 
Philadelphia to decide upon our destinies. Tradition has 
preserved a portion of the speech of Mr. Lee, the mover of 
the resolution ; 1 and Mr. Webster, in his eulogy on Adams 
and Jefferson, has embodied in eloquent phrase what may be 
supposed to have been the speech of John Adams. 2 But 
these, with a few others, imperfectly rendered, are the only 
fragments which have reached our day. It was a time for 
action, rather than for preserving the memorials of action. 
The sentiments uttered were the promptings of the hour ; and 
resolute men were inspired by the greatness of the theme 
before them. In such cases, the patriot is less anxious to 
transmit to posterity the evidence of his own zeal than to 
make his mark upon passing events. He builds his monument 
with deeds, not words. We know, however, that the dele- 

1 Lee's Lee, i. 172, 173. Its conclud- 
ing sentences are said to have been as 
follows : " Why, then, sir, do we long- 
er delay ? Why still deliberate ? Let 
this happy day give birth to an Amer- 
ican republic. Let her arise, not to 
devastate and conquer, but to re- 
establish the reign of peace and law. 
The eyes of Europe are fixed upon 
us ; she demands of us a living exam- 
ple of freedom, that may exhibit a 
contrast, in the felicity of the citizen, 
to the ever-increasing tyranny which 
desolates her polluted shores. She 
invites us to prepare an asylum where 
the unhappy may find solace, and the 
persecuted repose. She entreats us 
to cultivate a propitious soil, where 
that generous plant which first sprang 
and grew in England, but is now with- 
ered by the poisonous blasts of Scot- 
tish tyranny, may revive and flourish, 
sheltering under its salubrious and in- 
terminable shade all the. unfortunate 
of the human race. If we are not 
this day wanting in duty to our coun- 

try, the names of the American legis- 
lators of '76 will be placed by poster- 
ity at the side of those of Theseus, 
of Lycurgus, of Romulus, of Numa, 
of the three Williams of Nassau, and 
of all those whose memory has been, 
and forever will be, dear to virtuous 
men and good citizens." J. Adams, 
Corresp. in Works, x. 177, speaking 
of the speech of Lee given by Botta 
in his Hist, of the Am. Rev., says it 
" may have been delivered, but I have 
no remembrance of it, though in Con- 
gress, nor would it do any member 
much credit." 

2 Eulogy, 38-42. The extract is 
too long to be quoted here, but it is 
worthy of perusal — not only for the 
evidence it presents of the genius of 
the orator, but of the sentiments of 
Mr. Adams, which are correctly rep- 
resented, and in some parts stated in 
his own glowing words. See Letter 
of J. Adams to J. Winthrop June 23, 
1776, in Works, ix. 409. 


chap, gates, from Massachusetts were particularly active ; and " it 
^J^ is doing no injustice to others to say, that the general opinion 
1776. was, and uniformly has been, that, in debate, on the side of 
independence, John Adams had no equal. The great author 
of the Declaration has himself expressed that opinion uniformly 
and strongly. ' John Adams,' said he, ' was our Colossus on 
the floor.' " 1 

As it appeared in the course of the debate that several of 
the colonies were not yet ripe for independence, and as it was 
deemed prudent to give their assemblies an opportunity to 
take off their restrictions, that the declaration might be unan- 
imously made, the result of this day's deliberation was the 
appointment of a committee to draught a declaration of inde- 
pendence, to report at some future time ; and the final decision 
upon the general question was postponed to the first Monday 
in July. 2 By the courtesies of parliamentary usage, Mr. Lee, 
as the mover of the resolution, shpuld have been put at the 
head of the committee now appointed ; and it is an obvious 
inquiry why he was not placed there. Evidently it was not 
because of his disqualification for the post, for his talents were 
certainly highly respectable. Nor was it because he had any 
reluctance to assume the responsibility it imposed. It is sug- 
gested by his biographer — and it is probably the true reason 
— that it was because he was suddenly called from his seat 
by an express from Virginia informing him of the dangerous 
illness of his wife. 3 It became necessary, therefore, to select 

1 Webster's Eulogy, 32. Elbridge any great alteration in the civil sys- 
Gerry, of Massachusetts, likewise tem, as the temper and inclination of 
spoke ; and, in one speech in particu- their constituents shall lead. I be- 
lar, he " laid out his whole soul." lieve a majority of them would cut 
Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 188-191. the knot to-morrow ; but they must 

2 Jefferson's Works, i. 17 ; E. Ger- have a concurrence of the people, or 
ry to J. Warren, June 11, 1776, in at least a general approbation of any 
Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 191, 192. such material change." Comp. also 
"The Congress," wrote Reed to Pet- Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 51. 

tit, March, 1776, in Heed's Reed, i. 3 Lee's Lee, i. 173. Comp. Aus- 

183, " are proceeding in their military tin's Life of Gerry, i. 197; Curtis's 

operations, reserving themselves for Hist, of the Const i. 81. 


one in his stead ; and, out of compliment to Virginia, who had chap. 
instructed her delegates to initiate this matter, Mr. Jefferson ^^ 
was placed at the head of the committee, though a much 1776. 
younger man, and less familiar with the details of business. 1 

The proceedings of this committee have not been preserved ; 
nor have we any thing more than occasional references to the 
same in the writings of the members. It appears, however, 
that Mr. Jefferson was unanimously selected to prepare the 
draught of the proposed declaration, and that, after some hes- 
itation, he complied with the request. Nor is there reason 
to regret that this delicate duty was intrusted to him ; for, 
young as he was, he understood well the merits of the con- 
troversy in which the colonies had been engaged, and wielded 
the pen of an eloquent advocate ; and, though the admirable 
document which it was his good fortune to frame has since 
been censured for its " glittering generalities," it is too dura- 
ble a monument to his fame to be destroyed by one sweeping 
assertion. " To say of the author," observes Mr. Webster, 
" that he performed his great work well, would be doing him 
injustice. To say that he did it excellently well, admirably 

1 Mr. Adams, Letter to T. Picker- upon both. Mr. Jefferson came into 

ing, Aug. 6, 1823, in Works, ii. 512, Congress in June, 1775, and brought 

513, intimates that Jefferson was with him a reputation for literature, 

placed at the head of this committee science, and a happy talent of compo- 

in accordance " with the Frankfort ad- sition. Writings of his were handed 

vice, to place Virginia at the head of about, remarkable for the peculiar fe- 

every thing ; " but the reason suggest- licity of expression. Though a silent 

ed in the text seems to me sufficient, member in Congress, he was so 

" Mr. R. H. Lee," he adds, " might be prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive 

gone to Virginia, to his sick family, upon committees and in conversation, 

for aught I know, but that was not the — not even Samuel Adams was more 

reason of Mr. Jefferson's appointment, so, — that he soon seized upon my 

There were three committees appoint- heart ; and upon this occasion I gave 

ed at the same time — one for the him my vote, and did all in my power 

declaration of independence, another to procure the votes of others. I 

for preparing articles of confederation, think he had one vote more than any 

and another for preparing a treaty to other, and that placed him at the 

be proposed to France. Mr. Lee was head of the committee. I had the 

chosen for the committee of confeder- next highest number, and that placed 

ation, and it was not thought conven- me second." 
ient that the same person should be 

VOL. III. 8 


chap, well, would be inadequate and halting praise. Let us rather 
^^ say, that he so discharged the duty assigned him that all 
1776. Americans may rejoice that the work of drawing the title 
deed of their liberties devolved on him." 1 
The report of the committee was presented to the House 
Jim. 2S. on the twenty-eighth of June, and was read, and ordered to 
July l. lie on the table. On the following Monday, the House resolved 
itself into a committee of the whole, and the consideration 
of the original motion of Mr. Lee was resumed. 2 The debate 
which ensued " took up the most of the day," though nothing 
was said but what had been " repeated before a hundred times 
for six months past." 3 In the committee of the whole, the 
question was decided in the affirmative by the votes of nine 
colonies, and reported to the House. 4 But here hesitation 
was manifested ; and, at the instance of Edward Eutledge, of 
South Carolina, the determination of the question was deferred 
to the next day, on the ground that, though his colleagues 
" disapproved of the resolution, they would then join in it 
.July 2. for the sake of unanimity." 5 On Tuesday a decision was 
reached, and a resolution was passed, by twelve of the col- 
onies, " that these United States are, and of right ought to 
be, free and independent states ; that they are absolved from 
all allegiance to the British crown ; and that all political con- 

1 Webster's Eulogy on Adams and members, however, declaring that, if 
, Jefferson, 27 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, the question should now be demand- 

i. 201. John Randolph, of Virginia, ed, they should vote for it, but they 

i is said to have once called the Dec- wished for a day or two to consider 

Jaration of Independence a "fanfaro- of it." Comp. Works, iii. 54. 

nade of abstractions." Oration of 4 These were New Hampshire, Con- 

j Hon. C. F. Adams before the City necticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 

Authorities of Boston, July 4, 1843, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North 

p. 13. Carolina, and Georgia. South Carolina 

2 Jefferson's Works, i. 18, 118. and Pennsylvania voted against it. Dei- 

3 Corresp. of J. Adams, in Works, aware had but two members, and they 
ix. 36, 415 ; Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. were divided. The delegates from 
340, 341. " The last debate but one," New York declared that they were for 
says Mr. Adams, " was the most co- it themselves, but had no authority to 
pious and the most animated ; but the vote in its favor. Jefferson's Works, 
question was now evaded by a motion i. 1 8. 

to postpone it to another day; some 5 Jefferson's Works, i. 18. 


nection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and chap. 
ought to be, totally dissolved. n l ^^ 

" The delay of this declaration to this time," wrote John 1776. 
Adams, " has many great advantages attending it. The hopes July 3. 
of reconciliation which were fondly entertained by multitudes 
of honest and well-meaning, though weak and mistaken peo- 
ple, have been gradually, and at last totally, extinguished. 
Time has been given for the whole people maturely to consider 
the great question of independence, and to ripen their judgment, 
dissipate their fears, and allure their hopes, by discussing it in 
newspapers and pamphlets, by debating it in assemblies, con- 
ventions, committees of safety and inspection, in town and 
county meetings, as well as in private conversations — so that 
the whole people, in every colony of the thirteen, have now 
adopted it as their own act. This will cement the union, and 
avoid those heats, and perhaps convulsions, which might have 
been occasioned by such a declaration six months ago. 

"But the day is past. The second of July, 1776, will be 
the most memorable era in the history of America. I am apt 
to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations 
as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemo- 
rated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion 
to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and 
parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and 
illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from 
this time forward, forevermore." 

" You will think me," he adds, " transported with enthusi- 
asm ; but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, the blood, 
and treasure that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and 
support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, 
I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see 
that the end is more than worth all the means, and that pos- 

1 Jour. Cont. Gong. ii. 227 ; Boston son's Works, i. 18 ; Obs. on the Am. 
Gazette for July 15, 1776 ; J. Adams's Rev. 53-57. 
Corresp. in Works, ix. 418 ; Jeffer- 


chap, terity will triumph in that day's transactions, even although 
^^ we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not." 1 
1776. It should be observed, in passing, that unanimity was not 
secured without great exertions on the part of the friends of 
independence. As we have seen, at the hour of adjournment, 
on the first of July, but nine of the colonies were in favor of 
the resolution, and two were opposed — the other two, New 
York and New Jersey, withholding their vote for the want 
of instructions. 2 Of the seven Pennsylvania delegates, three 
voted for, and four against, the resolution. Two of the ad- 
verse party were absent on the following day, so that the vote 
of that province was " accidentally, and by a majority of one, 
given in its favor." 3 Delaware, which had but two delegates, 
was divided — one being in favor, and the other opposed ; 
but by the arrival of Rodney, who was sent for by express, 
the vote of that province was given in the affirmative. 4 The 
delegates from New York " thought themselves not justifiable 
in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw from 
the question ; which was given them." 5 South Carolina, 
when the question was taken, voted in the affirmative. Thus 
the resolution of Mr. Lee in favor of independence was passed 

1 Corresp. in Works, ix. 419, 420. who had hitherto constantly voted 
Comp. Niles's Principles and Acts of against it, started suddenly upright, 
the Rev. 327-330. and, lifting up both his hands to heaven, 

2 Lett, of J. Adams to W. Plumer, as if he had been in a trance, cried out, 
March 28, 1813, in Works, ix. 35. « It is done, and I will abide by it.' " 

" The measure," says he, " had been 3 Reed's Reed, i. 187 ; Corresp. of 

upon the carpet for months, and ob- J. Adams, in Works, x. 87. Among 

stinately opposed from day to day. the opposers were Robert Morris and 

Majorities were constantly against it. John .Dickinson. See Morris's Letter 

For many days, the majority depend- to Reed, July 20, 1776, in Reed's 

ed on Mr. Hewes, of North Carolina. Reed, i. 201. Jefferson, Works, i. 

While a member was one day speak- 18, says " members of a different sen- 

ing, and reading documents from all timent " attended that morning, and 

the colonies to prove that the public changed the vote of Pennsylvania, 
opinion, the general sense of all, was 4 Jefferson's Works, i. 18 ; T. 

in favor of the measure, when he came M'Kean to J. Adams, Jan. 1814, in 

to North Carolina, and produced let- Adams's Works, x. 87, 88. M'Kean 

ters and public proceedings which de- was in favor, and Read was opposed. 

monstrated that the majority of that 5 Jefferson's Works, i. 18 ; Sparks 
colony were in favor of it, Mr. Hewes, Life of Gouverneur Morris, i. 


by twelve of the colonies — a majority of the delegates of chap. 
each colony voting in the affirmative. 1 The thirteenth colony, 
New York, within a few days approved of the step, " and thus 
supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing of her dele- 
gates from the vote." 2 " Remember," wrote John Adams, 
" you cannot make thirteen clocks strike precisely alike, at the 
same second." But when they did strike, there was concord 
in their notes. 3 

On the same day that the resolution of Lee was passed, the July 2. 
Congress proceeded to consider the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, which had been reported and laid on the table the Friday 
preceding, and on Monday referred to a committee of the 
whole. This, too, provoked discussion, and considerable com- 
ment was made upon portions of it. Two passages, in partic- 
ular, were vehemently opposed. " The pusillanimous idea," 
says Jefferson, " that we had friends in England worth keeping 
terms with still haunted the minds of many. For this reason, 
those passages which conveyed censures on the people of 
England were struck out, lest they should give them offence. 
The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of 
Africa was struck out, in complaisance to South Carolina and 
Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation 

1 Lett, of S. Adams to R. H. Lee, tern of 1774 ; that their subsequent 
July 15, 1776, in Lee's Lee, i. 183. resistance arose from refused redress 

2 Jefferson's Works, i. 18, 19. and attempted coercion, and their con- 

3 Corresp. in Works, ix. 402. Bis- sent to the scheme of independence 
sett, Hist. Eng. i. 471, judiciously ob- from the total rejection of all their 
serves on the passage of this declara- applications, combined with elation for 
tion, " From the series of acts which the success of the former campaign, 
the narrative has presented, it appears The independence of America, there- 
that the New Englanders, since the fore, whether wise or unwise, evident- 
commencement of the disputes, man- ly proceeded from no preconcerted 
ifested dispositions to republicanism, design, but was a natural consequence 
from which we might fairly infer a de- of the measures which were pursued 
sire, and even a design, of eventual by the mother country, and the prog- 
separation; but that the middle and ress of human passions when they re- 
southern colonies were the votaries of fuse the admonitions of reason and 
loyal and constitutional connection wisdom — from disputes to quarrels, 
and subordination ; that their cooper- repeated with increasing asperity, un- 
ation with the colonies of the north til they terminated in a final rup- 
was the immediate effect of the sys- ture." 


chap, of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue 

^J^^ it. Our northern brethren, also, I believe, felt a little tender 
1776. under these censures ; for though their people had very few 
slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable car- 
riers of them to others." l 

The original draught, in the autograph of Mr. Jefferson, 
of the Declaration of Independence, has been preserved and 
published ; and, by comparing that draught with the declara- 
tion as passed, the changes made in it will be readily per- 
ceived. The alterations, however, were principally verbal ; 
and it speaks volumes in favor of the skill of the framer, 
that, where so many opinions prevailed, so few exceptions 
were taken to his work. 2 

The discussion upon the Declaration of Independence occu- 
pied the time of the House for the greater part of three days ; 

July 4. but at length, on the evening of the third day, it was passed, 
" signed by every member present, except Mr. Dickinson ; " 3 
and copies of the same were ordered to be sent " to the sev- 
eral assemblies, conventions, and committees or councils of 
safety, and to the several commanding officers of the conti- 
nental troops ; that it be proclaimed in each of the United 

July 19. States, and at the head of the army." 4 A fortnight later, the 
Declaration was ordered to be engrossed on parchment ; and, 
when ready, it received the signatures of all the delegates, and 
became the act of the thirteen colonies. 5 

1 Jefferson's Works, i. 19 ; Lee's of Independence is given in Almon's 
Lee, i. 175 ; J. Adams's Letter to T. Remembrancer, iv. 28-41. 
Pickering, Aug. 6, 1822, in Works, ii. 3 Jefferson's Works, i. 19, 120. 
514; Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 4 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 233; Al- 
87, 88. mon's Remembrancer, iii. 258. On 

2 Jefferson's Works, i. 19-26, with the famous Mecklenberg Declaration, 
the fac-simile attached; Lee's Lee, i. of May 20, 1775, see Force's Am. 
275-280. The alterations made in Archives ; Niles's Principles and Acts 
the draught of Jefferson caused Frank- of the Rev. 132-136. 

lin, who sat near him, to relate, with 5 Jefferson's Works, i. 120-122 ; 

his usual humor, the story of " John Secret Journals ; Webster's Eulogy, 

Thompson, the Hatter,'"' given in 31 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 203, 204. 

Sparks's Life of Franklin, 407. A Lord Mahon, Hist. Eng. vi. 98, very 

series of strictures on the Declaration justly observes that, " among all the 


" This celebrated instrument," " regarded as a chap. 

legislative proceeding, was the most solemn enactment, by the IIL 
representatives of all the colonies, of a complete dissolution 1776. 
of their allegiance to the British crown, It severed the po- 
litical connection between the people of this country and the 
people of England, and at once erected the different colonies 
into free and independent states. The body by which this 
step was taken constituted the actual government of the 
nation at the time ; and its members had been directly in- 
vested with competent legislative power to take it, and had 
also been specially instructed to do so. The consequences 
flowing from its adoption were, that the local allegiance of 
the inhabitants of each colony became transferred and due to 
the colony itself, or, as it was expressed by the Congress, 
became due to the laws of the colony from which they derived 
protection ; that the people of the country became thence- 
forth the rightful sovereigns of the country ; that they be- 
came united, in a national corporate capacity, as one people ; 
that they could thereafter enter into treaties and contract 
alliances with foreign nations, could levy war and conclude 
peace, and do all other acts pertaining to the exercise of a 
national sovereignty ; and, finally, that, in their national cor- 
porate capacity, they became known and designated as the 
United States of America. This Declaration was the first 
national state paper in which these words were used as the 
style and title of the nation. In the enacting part of the 
instrument, the Congress styled themselves ' the representa- 
tives of the United States of America in General Congress 
assembled ; ' and, from that period, the previously ' United 
Colonies' have been known as a political community, both 

coincidences of date which history re- in their native land, expire on the fif- 

cords, there is none, perhaps, so strik- tieth anniversary of the day on which 

ing as that John Adams and Jeffer- this their own handiwork, this the 

son, the two main movers of this dec- foundation of their own greatness, 

laration, should both, after filling with was first sent forth." 
signal reputation the highest office 1 Hist. Const, i. 87, 88. 


chap, within their own borders and by the other nations Df the 

.JJJJ^ world, by the title which they then assumed." 

1776. In accordance with the arrangements which had been made 

for that purpose, the Declaration of Independence was read 

publicly in all the states, and at the head of the army, and 

was welcomed with the liveliest demonstrations of joy. In 

July 8. Philadelphia, in particular, the bell in the State House rang 
for the first time the stirring peal of American liberty, and 
the enthusiasm of the people rose to the highest pitch. 1 
Throughout the country, indeed, a change was visible ; and 
every thing, from this date, assumed a new form. " The 
Americans no longer appeared in the character of subjects in 
arms against their sovereign, but as an independent people, 
repelling the attacks of an invading foe. The propositions 
and supplications for reconciliation were done away. The 
dispute was brought to a single point — whether the late 
British colonies should be conquered provinces, or free and 
independent states." 2 

July 18. The reading of the Declaration in Boston took place on 
the eighteenth of July, from the balcony of the Town House, 
which was thenceforth the State House, in the presence of a 
vast concourse of the citizens, of a number of military compa- 
nies, of the officers of the militia and of the continental army 
then on the station, of the selectmen and other municipal 
officers of the town, and of many members of the Executive 
Council and the General Assembly. The parade on the 
occasion was unusually great ; the exultation of the people 
was unbounded. The king's arms were removed from the 
place they had long filled ; and a public dinner was given, 
at which hundreds were seated. On the ensuing Sunday, the 
Declaration was read in most of the churches at the close of 
the religious services of the afternoon ; and the piety of the 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 92 ; Al- 2 Ramsay's Am. Rev. i. 346. 
mon's Remembrancer, iii. 337. 


people consecrated the cause as the cause of God and of suf- chap 
fering humanity. 1 >^-v-L, 

It will be readily conceived that no step hitherto taken was 1776. 
more cordially approved by the patriots of New England 
than this, which severed forever their connection with Great 
Britain. Not that even the most zealous deprecated, under 
all circumstances, the continuance of such connection ; but 
they had long been satisfied of the hopelessness of effecting a 
reconciliation upon terms which would be alike satisfactory 
and honorable. If concessions were to be made, it was well 
understood that they would be expected to come from this 
side of the water. The ministers of the king had too much 
pride to acknowledge their errors, nor did they seem even 
conscious that they had done any thing which called for 
such an acknowledgment. In their own estimation, they had 
sought only to uphold the dignity of the crown, and to restore 
to obedience refractory subjects. If, in some cases, they had 
advocated measures of unusual severity, they were made neces- 
sary, they thought, by the exigencies of the 'times; and the 
responsibility of their passage must rest with the " rebels." 
Knowing that such feelings prevailed, and conscious that their 
resistance was grounded upon principle, and fell legitimately 
within the limits of constitutional authority, the statesmen of 
New England, who were in the forefront of the battle, and 
who looked over the field with a view to remote consequences 
as well as to immediate results, were convinced that war alone 
could decide the controversy, and that, to concentrate the 

1 Boston Gazette for July 22, 1776 ; Crown, Heart and Crown, &c, to- 
Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 256 ; gether with every sign that belonged 
Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 206 ; Brad- to a tory, was taken down, and made 
ford, ii. 116,117. " The bells of the a general conflagration of in King 
town were rung on the occasion, and Street. The King's Amis, in this 
undissembled festivity cheered and town, was, on Saturday last, also de- 
lightened every face." " We hear faced." For the observances at 
that, on Thursday last, every King's "Worcester, see Mass. Spy for July 24, 
Arms in Boston, and every sign with 1776, and Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 
any resemblance of it, whether Lion 115, 116. 
and Crown, Pestle and Mortar and 


chap, action of all the colonies, they must be bound together by a 
,^_ v _l w common tie, to enlist the sympathies of the reluctant and luke- 
1776. warm. This was effected by the Declaration of Independence ; 
and for the passage of this Declaration none labored more 
zealously than the delegates from Massachusetts. They knew 
it was not only for their own interest, but for the interest of 
the country, that the step should be taken ; and, when taken, 
they foresaw that strength would be added to the public coun- 
cils, that foreign alliances could be more easily contracted, 
and that the freedom of the nation would be more speedily 
secured. They did not adopt the maxim of ancient times of 
degeneracy, — 

" Quaerenda pecunia primum est, 
Virtus post nummos ; " 

but, appropriating to themselves a nobler sentiment, were ready 
to say, — 

" If it be aught toward the general good, 
Set honor in one eye, and death i' the other, 
And I will look on both indifferently ; 
For let the gods so speed me, as I love 
The name of honor more than I fear death." l 

1 Julius Caesar, Act i. Sc. 2. 



To sketch in full the progress of the revolution is properly chap. 
the province of the national historian ; and though the field v * 
is a tempting one, and might be profitably explored, it would 1776. 
be quite out of place for the local historian to aim to supply 
any existing deficiency by an amplitude of detail, which would 
be allowable in a general work, but which, in one of a more 
restricted character, would be regarded as superfluous. Noth- 
ing, therefore, will be attempted here more than a summary 
of events bearing directly upon the history of Massachusetts, 
and illustrating the part taken by the citizens of this state in 
achieving the independence of the country. Even within 
these bounds, enough may be said to show that, if the soil of 
Massachusetts was no longer trodden by a hireling soldiery, 
and the people were no longer subjected to the stern necessity 
of fighting immediately for their own families and the protec- 
tion of their own homes, they were by no means indifferent to 
the claims of others upon their services, whose peace was 
disturbed by a foreign foe ; nor were they unwilling to conse- 
crate their fortunes to liberty, and to seal their sincerity by 
their own blood. 

Upon the evacuation of Boston, and the departure of 
Washington for New York, the command of the forces in Mas- 
sachusetts devolved upon General Ward, who was instructed to 
occupy and repair the forts already erected, and to strengthen 
his defences to prevent the recapture of the town. He was, 
also, in all his proceedings, to consult the civil authorities, 
and act under their advice for the protection of the terri- 




chap, tory. 1 The General Assembly had previously requested that 
IV ' six regiments might be left in his charge, as a portion of the 
1776. British fleet remained in the lower harbor, and they feared an 
attack unless they could concentrate a formidable force ; but 
only three regiments could be spared, and it became necessary, 
shortly after, to raise three more, with six companies of artil- 
lery, at the expense of the state. 2 

In accordance with his instructions, General Ward pro- 
ceeded forthwith to fortify the harbor, and in a very short- 
May 4. time was able to report that the " forts on Fort Hill, in Bos- 
ton, Charlestown Point, and Castle Point" were "almost 
completed, with a number of heavy cannon mounted in each." 
A work was also in good forwardness on Noddle's Island, 
now East Boston ; a detachment of the army was at Castle 
Island, repairing the batteries which the British had breached, 
and a number of hulks were preparing to be sunk in the chan- 
nel. 3 " I have employed the troops here," he wrote, " to the 
greatest advantage in my power ; have ordered all the men 
not on actual duty to turn out upon fatigue every day, not 

m l Bradford, ii. 102. Comp. Frank- 
lin's Works, viii. 181. 

2 Jour. H. of R. for 1776 ^Brad- 
ford, ii. 102. Two of these regiments 
were ordered to be raised in April, 
and the third in May. James War- 
ren, in a letter to E. Gerry, June 12, 
1776, Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 182, 
says, " A regiment ordered more than 
two months ago to be raised, under 
Colonel Whitney, yet wants more 
than a hundred men. Another, under 
Marshall, and one to consist of seven 
companies of the train, under Crafts, 
make but slow progress. Marshall 
has not near hah' filled his regiment, 
though the enlisting orders were given 
out six weeks ago." See also Jour. 
H. of R. for May 31 and June 1 and 
6, 1776. The same Journal, p. 19, 
sneaks of four independent compa- 
nies, at Dorchester, Braintree, Wey- 
mouth, and Hingham. 

3 In addition to these preparations, 
the General Court, in April, voted to 
erect a powder mill at Sutton; a 
bounty was offered for the manufac- 
ture of saltpetre; a committee was 
appointed to superintend the casting 
of cannon and the making of firearms ; 
beacons were erected in Boston, at 
Cape Ann, Marblehead, and on the 
Blue Hills, in Milton, to give an 
alarm, should a landing be attempt- 
ed ; and two vessels were employed 
to keep watch in the bay, and give 
seasonable notice of the movements 
of the enemv. Jour. H. of R. tor 
1776; Bradford, ii. 106; Bliss's Re- 
hoboth, 147. The sinking of hulks 
in the harbor was suspended, June 1, 
by the General Court, on the memo- 
rial of a committee of the town of 
Boston. Jour. H. of R. for June 1, 


allowing any superfluous cooks nor waiters ; and, upon receiv- chap. 
ing intelligence of the British fleet being on its passage this 
way, I directed all the officers to turn out with their men upon 
the works ; which they cheerfully complied with, and are in- 
stantly upon fatigue with their men. 77 \ 

The regiments which had been ordered by the General 
Court were eventually organized, and stationed partly at the 
Castle, partly at Noddle's Island, and partly at Nantasket. 2 
General Benjamin Lincoln, a native of Hingham, and a de- 
scendant of the Lincolns of Norfolk, England, was the chair- 
man of the committee appointed to attend to this duty ; and 
the military skill which he displayed on the occasion, joined 
to his superior qualities as an officer and a gentleman, won 
for him the favorable notice of Washington, and led to his 
transfer, at a subsequent date, to a post of still greater re- 1777. 
sponsibility, in which he was distinguished by his prudence 
and courage, and the sterling traits of fidelity and integrity. 
Few officers, indeed, who served in the war, won for them- 
selves a prouder name, and few are remembered with warmer 
affection. 3 

1 Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. mouth, on Casco Bay. Cannon and 
191, 192, 200. From the Boston military stores were also furnished, 
Gazette for May 6, 1776, it appears and men were stationed at these places 
that a number of persons in the me- for the greater part of the summer, to 
tropolis voluntarily subscribed to assist prevent a landing from the British 
in fortifying the harbor of Boston, un- ships which were hovering on the 
der the direction of the committee of coast. Boston Gazette for April 29, 
the General Court, and that gentle- 1776; Jour. H. of R. for June 3, 
men from the country also voluntari- 1776. 

ly labored on the work. A letter 3 Jour. H. of R. for June 11, 1776 j 

from the Continental Congress of May Sparks's Washington, iv. 229, 240, 

16 also urged upon the General Court 294 ; Mem. of Gen. Lincoln, in 2 M. 

the necessity of reenforcing the troops H. Coll. in. 233 et seq. ; N. A. Rev. 

in Boston, to prevent the town falling for Nov. 1815; S. Lincoln's Hist. 

again into the hands of the ministerial Hingham, 140-146. An excellent 

army ; and a report on the subject portrait of General Lincoln is pre- 

was made by the Council May 31. served at the rooms of the Massachu- 

Jour. H. of R. for 1776, p. 9. setts Historical Society. He was ap- 

2 Bradford, ii. 108. In addition to pointed secretary of war in 1782, and 
the works in the harbor of Boston, in 1788 was chosen lieutenant gov- 
the General Court likewise provided eraor of Massachusetts. Jour. Cont. 
for fortifications at Salem, Marble- Cong. i. ; Sparks's Washington, viiL 
head, Cape Ann, Plymouth, and Fal- 225, &c. ; Bradford, ii. 332. 


The naval armament of Massachusetts embraced no vessels 
which could aspire to be ranked as first-class frigates, 1 nor had 
1776. extensive arrangements been made by the General Congress 
to prosecute the war at sea. 2 The craft in the commission of 
the state and of the continent, however, with the privateers 
fitted out from different ports, rendered efficient and valuable 
service, and were ever alert to capture a prize. The exploit 
of the Franklin was signally brilliant ; and her gallant com- 
mander, Captain Mugford, of Marblehead, deserves to be held 
in remembrance by his townsmen. His vessel was small, and 
his crew consisted of but twenty or twenty-one men ; yet he 
resolutely encountered a large ship of three hundred tons, 
from Ireland, mounting six guns, and loaded with provisions 
and military stores, of the value of forty or fifty thousand 

May 17. pounds. The engagement took place at the entrance of Bos- 
ton harbor, in full view of the British ships in Nantasket 
Roads ; and great was their chagrin when they beheld the vic- 
tor, with his prize in tow, steering for Boston through the 
northern passage. But his triumph was short ; for, two days 

May 19. after, as he fell down the harbor to put to sea on a cruise, his 
vessel unfortunately grounded in the Gut, near Point Shirley. 
The British were informed of his perilous situation ; and 


1 Almon's Remembrancer, iii. 342, at Swansey, and, p. 9, of vessels built 

gives an account of the launching, by order of the General Court for 

June 10, at Newburyport, of the Han- guarding the sea coast and annoying 

cock, a " fine ship " of 24 guns, well the enemy by sea. 

built, of the best timber, under the 2 The American navy, in 1776, is 

direction of the Hon. Thomas Cush- said to have consisted of the Alfred, 

ing ; and of the launching, at Ports- of 32 guns, the Columbus, of 24, the 

mouth, two weeks earlier, of a frigate Portsmouth, of 20, the Defence, An- 

of 32 guns, built under the direction dre Doria, and Cabot, of 16 each, the 

of John Langdon, Esq. See, also, Northampton, of 14, the Hornet, of 

with reference to these vessels, Trum- 12, the Wasp, of 10, the Fly, of 6, 

bull MS. Letter Book B, 82, Letter and 13 galleys, of 1 and 2 guns each, 

of Marine Committee, Oct. 25, 1776. built for river service only. To these 

For these, 64 cannon were to be pro- were added, in 1777, 15 vessels of 

vided, 52 twelve pounders, and 12 from 6 to 36 guns, 4 xebecs, of 10 

four pounders. See also Jour. Cont. guns each, 2 fireships, and 2 floating 

Cong, il 393, under date Oct. 16, batteries. Letter to Lord Viscount 

1776. The Jour. H. of R. for 1776, Howe, &c, Lond., 1779, 17, 18. 
p. 8, speaks of armed vessels building 


twelve or thirteen boats, filled with men, were sent to attack chap. 
him. They drew near about midnight, but were ordered to ^3l. 
stand off, and, refusing to obey, were fired upon. Two boats 1776. 
were sunk, and the rest were dispersed — but not without the 
loss of the captain of the Franklin, who was run through with 
a lance while fighting at his post. 1 

The frequent alarms in May and June, and the fears enter- May 


tamed of another visit from the British, gave much uneasiness June. 
to the inhabitants of Massachusetts. Hence, early in the 
latter month, it was determined by the General Court to for- Jun. 11. 
tify Nantasket and several of the islands in the harbor, and 
to drive all the enemy's vessels, if possible, from the bay. 9 
Accordingly, by beat of drum, detachments from the colonial Jun. 13. 
regiments, commanded by Colonels Marshall and Whitney, 
and a " battalion of train," commanded by Lieutenant Colonel 
Crafts, were mustered, embarked in boats at Long Wharf, 
sent down the harbor, and posted at Pettick's Island and at 
Hull, where they were joined by some of the continental 
troops and sea coast companies — making, in all, six hundred 
men at each place. A like number of the militia from the 
towns in the vicinity of Boston, with a detachment from the 
train and some field pieces, likewise took post at Moon Island, 
Hough's Neck, and Point Alderton ; and a detachment from 
the continental army, under Colonel Whitcomb, with two 
eighteen pounders, one thirteen inch mortar, and the necessary 

1 Boston Gazette for May 20, April 17, is incorrect, as is also the 

1776 ; Almon's Remembrancer, iii. date in Rantoul's Oration at Lexing- 

137, 138, 234; Sparks's Corresp. of ton, Ap. 19, 1850, which says "May 

the Rev. i. 204 ; Bradford, ii. 109, 19, 1775." 

110. Mugford was not commissioned 2 Jour. H. of R. for June 11, 1776. 

as captain of the Franklin, but as " I never shall be happy," wrote John 

master ; and, as the others had left Adams to Samuel Cooper, May 30, 

the vessel, he took the command. He 1776, Corresp. in Works, ix. 381, 

was accompanied on his last cruise by " until every unfriendly flag is driven 

" Maj. Frazer's little armed schoon- out of sight, and the Lighthouse 

er ; " but the crew on board this ves- Island, George's and Lovell's Islands, 

sel cut their cable, on being apprised and the east end of Long Island, are 

of the approach of the British, and secured." 
escaped. The date in Bradford, viz., 


chap, intrenching tools, were embarked for Long Island, to take 

^3^. P os ^ there. These bodies, which were placed under Major 
1776. Lincoln, were accompanied by Prussian engineers of consider- 
able skill ; and they labored with such diligence that, in a few 

Jun. 14. hours, defeDces were thrown up on Long Island and at Nan- 
tasket, and cannon were mounted, which began to play upon 
the British fleet, numbering eight ships, two "snows/ 7 two 
brigs, and one schooner. The enterprise was successful ; and 
the shattered fleet, finding it hazardous to remain, put to sea, 
after blowing up the lighthouse — leaving behind two or three 
vessels, which were captured by the Americans. 1 

Jun. 10 The capture by privateers, from Marblehead and elsewhere, 
of four or five transport ships from England and Scotland, 
each having on board from eighty to one hundred Highland- 
ers, besides marines for the British fleet, was noticed in the 
journals of the day as another capital exploit — especially as 
one of the ships engaged the privateers for several hours 
before she surrendered, and lost seventeen men, besides a 
major in the British service. 2 

The General Court, which, under the provincial charter, 
had been accustomed to assemble on the last Wednesday in 
May, was this year organized at Watertown, at the usual 

May 29. time ; and the members of the Executive Council for the pre- 
vious year were reelected, with the exception of six, who 
declined to serve. 3 The business which came before this body 
was of the utmost importance ; yet, as many of the members 
were novices in legislation and unskilled in political affairs, 

1 Boston Gazette for June 17, 1776; 3 Jour. H. of R. for 1776 ; J. Ad- 
Almon's Remembrancer, iii. 138,201, ams to S. Cooper, Mav 30, 1776, in 
202, Iv. 138 ; Pemberton's Jour, in Works, ix. 381 ; Bradford, ii. 107. 
1 M. H. Coll. ii. 65 ; Thacher's Jour. The six who declined were James Otis, 
46; Bradford, ii. 110, 111. John Adams, Jedediah Foster, Charles 

2 Boston Gazette for June 10 and Chauncy, Enoch Freeman, and Jo- 
17, 1776 ; "Ward to Washington, June seph Palmer ; and the reason of their 
20, 1776, in Sparks's Corresp. of the declining was principally the pressure 
Rev, i. 226 ; Almon's Remembrancer, of the duties connected with other 
iii. 290, 291; Thacher's Jour. 46; posts which demanded their atten- 
Bradford ii. 111. tion. 


their decisions were " afflictingly slow," while every thing chap. 
called for "ardor and despatch." 1 The British had, indeed, v J3lw 
quitted Boston, and their ships were driven from the waters 1776. 
of the bay ; but, in the critical state of public affairs, neither 
the citizens nor the General Court could promise themselves 
intermission in arduous service. Not only was it necessary 
that provisions should be made for the security of their own 
borders, but for augmenting the forces of the national army. 2 
Personal interest prompted to alacrity in the first of these 
objects ; but the demands of Congress for recruits at New 
York and on Lake Champlain 3 were more slowly answered ; 
and Hawley despondingly wrote, "This colony, I imagine, will Jun.2i 
raise the men required by Congress before snow flies, but in 
no season for the relief of either New York or Canada." 4 

It should be observed, however, in explanation of this con- 
duct, that it was not from the want of a disposition to comply 
that such tardiness was manifested, but chiefly from the diffi- 
culty of effecting enlistments. The General Court voted Jun. 17 

. . . and 20. 

readily to raise five thousand men, for six months, to reen- 
force the continental army, and, in an admirable address to 
the people, urged upon them the importance of attending to 
this duty. *" Although the numbers are large," say they, " yet 

1 J. Hawley to Washington, June the army in Canada; 13,800 at New 
21, 1776, in Sparks's Corresp. of the York ; and 10,000 as a flying camp. 
Rev. i. 230. Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 187, 188; Jour. 

2 From a Letter of President Han- Mass. H. of R. for June 12, 1776. 
cock to the Assembly of Connecticut, 4 J. Hawley to Washington, in 
May 16, 1776, in Trumbull MS. Let- Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. i. 230. 
ter Book B, 50, it appears that Con- " It will be in vain," he also wrote to 
gress had ordered two additional regi- Gerry, July 17, 1776, in Austin's Life 
ments to be raised in Massachusetts, of Gerry, i. 208, " to attempt to en- 
one in Connecticut, and one in New list New England people for a longer 
Hampshire, for the service of the term than two years. No bounties 
United Colonies. Comp. also Jour, will induce them to engage for a long- 
Cont. Cong. ii. 165, 167, and Jour, er time — I fear, for no longer time 
Mass. H. of R. for May 31, 1776. than one year." In this opinion, how- 
The five Massachusetts regiments were ever, as the event proved, he was mis- 
ordered, May 31, to be recruited to taken; for thousands were enlisted, 
their full complement. not for three years only, but during 

3 The resolve of Congress was for the war. 
employing 6000 militia to reenforce 

VOL. III. 9 


chap, the exertions now called for are not to be regarded when 
s J3l^ compared to the great and noble objects for which we are con- 
1776. tending. This Court, therefore, have the fullest assurance 
that their brethren, on this occasion, will not confer with flesh 
and blood, but, being convinced of the necessity of the measure, 
will, without hesitation and with the utmost alacrity and de- 
spatch, fill up the numbers proportioned on the several towns ; 
in which case we shall have the highest prospect of defeating 
the bloody designs of our unjust and cruel adversaries." * 

In pursuance of this purpose, committees were appointed in 
every town to assist and encourage the enlistments ; a bounty, 
and a month's pay in advance, were offered as inducements to 
soldiers to enroll their names ; and the sum of fifty thousand 
pounds of the currency of the state was appropriated to 
defray the accruing expenses. 2 Yet the work progressed 
slowly ; and it was difficult to persuade people of the expe- 
diency or policy of draining the state so largely of its in- 
habitants, especially as their services might be needed at 
home. But, besides this objection, there was another, which 
weighed more heavily with many. The local jealousies which 
prevailed in the colonies have been already alluded to ; and 
these jealousies, so far from disappearing with the transfer 
of the war to the south, seem rather to have been strength- 
ened, and to have burst forth with accumulated rancor and 
virulence. Hence, in alluding to this state of things, an offi- 
cer in the army wrote, " It has already risen to such a height, 
that the Pennsylvania and New England troops would as soon 
fight each other as the enemy. Officers of all ranks are 
indiscriminately treated in a most contemptible manner, and 
whole colonies traduced and vilified as cheats, knaves, cow- 

1 Jour. H. of R. for June 17 and 1070 ; Hampshire, 742 ; Plymouth, 

20, 1776; Bradford, ii. 113, 114. 380; Bristol, 362; York, 105; 

These troops were apportioned as fol- Worcester, 1102 ; Cumberland, 39; 

lows: Suffolk county was to raise 448 and Berkshire, 261. 

men; Essex county, 457 ; Middlesex, 2 Bradford, ii. 114. 


ards, poltroons, hypocrites, and every term of reproach, for chap. 
no other reason but because they are situated east of New ^J^, 
York. Every honor is paid to the merit of good men from 1776. 
the south ; the merit, if such be possible, from the north is not 
so readily acknowledged, but, if too apparent to be blasted 
with falsehood, is carefully buried in oblivion. The cowardice 
or misbehavior of the south is carefully covered over ; the 
least misconduct in the gentlemen of the north is published 
with large comments and aggravations." 1 

It is possible that these statements may be somewhat exag- 
gerated, and that allowance^hould be made for personal resent- 
ment and partisan zeal. Yet the fact remains that jealousies 
existed, which soured the temper and affected the views of 
the residents of different sections of the country. Nor is it sur- 
prising, when the sensitiveness of the people and the peculiar- 
ities of their position are considered, that a weakness which 
has always, to a greater or less extent, marked the character 
and conduct of mankind, should have exhibited itself among 
the patriots of America ; and, while it is not asserted that either 
party was exclusively to blame for yielding to this weakness, 
and that self-vindication was perfectly proper, it is to be regret- 
ted that the New Englanders retorted upon their opponents 
such bitter reproaches. If their provocations were great, so 
should have been their forbearance ; nor is it meanness of 
spirit which submits to indignities rather than resents them, 
when by a retaliatory course the evil is increased. Self-con- 
trol is the first lesson to be learned by those who are engaged 
in the struggle for freedom. But the passions of men are 
rarely restricted within rational bounds ; and instances innu- 
merable, from the history of all ages, prove that 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 113. Comp. ry, i. 277. The soldiers from New 

Reed's Reed, i. 239 ; Stedman's Am. England were called " Yankees " by 

War, i. 206, 207 ; Letter of Robert the southerners ; and they, in turn, 

Morris, in Sparks's Washington, iv. were called " Buckskins " by the New 

237, note; and Austin's Life of Ger- Englanders. Thacher's Jour. 61. 


" We may outrun 
By violent swiftness that which we run at, 
2j7 6 And lose by overrunning." 1 

If, however, it is admitted that the north was to blame, as 
well as the south, and if the officers from New England in 
some cases merited censure for their unmilitary conduct, 2 it 
must also be admitted that the soldiers, as a body, were as 
active and as zealous as those from the other states. 3 And if 
a parallel is drawn between the merits of the colonies, based 
upon the aggregate of their enlisiments in the service, the 
palm must unquestionably be awarded to New England. For 
Massachusetts alone had ten thousand men in the field, while 
the whole army numbered less than forty thousand. 4 

In addition to the five thousand called for in June, — three 

thousand of whom were sent to the northern department, and 

July 3 two thousand to New York, — early in the following month 

to 9 

several other regiments were ordered to New York, with a 
large number of light horse and several artillery companies ; 

1 J. Adams, Corresp. in Works, such illiberal reflections upon the 
ix. 460, says, " There is a narrow eastern troops as you say prevail in 

spirit, in many people, which seems to N . I always have, and always 

consider this contest as the affair of shall say, that I do not believe any of 

Boston and the Massachusetts, not the states produce better men. Equal 

the affair of the continent. All that injustice is done them in other re- 

they have to do is to get the charac- spects ; for no people fly to arms more 

ter of heroes by their bravery, to wear promptly, or come better equipped or 

genteel uniforms and armor, and to with more regularity into the field." 

be thought to lay Boston and Massa- Bradford, ii. 128, note. 

chusetts under vast obligations. For 4 Heath, Mems. 51, under date of 

my own part, I think the obligations Aug. 8, 1776, says the whole army 

mutual ; but if there is a balance, it did not exceed 40,000, officers includ- 

is clearly in favor of Massachusetts." ed, though rated in the newspapers at 

2 Comp. Reed's Reed, i. 240 ; 70,000 strong ; and Washington, in 
Washington to his brother, Nov. 19, a letter of the same date, in Marshall, 
1776, in Sparks's Washington, iv. ii. 428, and Sparks's Washington, iv. 
184 ; Marshall's Washington, ii. 473, 34, note, says that the number in New 
474; Thacher's Jour. 60, 61, 70; J. York was but 17,225 men, sick in- 
Adams's Corresp. in Works, ix. 434, eluded, though afterwards augmented 
439, and note, in Works, Mi. 87, 8S. to 27,000. Comp. Lord Mahon's Hist. 

3 " It is painful," wrote Washing- Eng. vi. 108. 
ton, in Jan. 1777, " for me to hear 


and two more regiments were ordered to Canada. 1 To effect chap. 
the raising of these, the legislature was obliged to order a ^3l^ 
levy of every twenty-fifth man in the state ; and, while the 1776. 
troops for the northern department were principally mustered 
from the counties at the west, and from Middlesex and Essex, 
those for New York were from the counties of Suffolk, Plym- 
outh, and Bristol. 2 But even these requisitions, great as they 
were, tell not the whole story with reference to Massachu- 
setts ; for, early in the fall, Washington solicited, and Congress Sept. 3. 
requested, the enlistment of additional troops, and every fifth 
man was ordered by the legislature to march to the neighbor- Sep. 10. 
hood of New York. 3 The towns on the sea coast were ex- 
empted in this order, as their services might possibly be needed 
at home ; and the detachment, when raised, was placed under 
the command of Major Benjamin Lincoln, and marched to 
Fairfield, in Connecticut, with directions to report themselves 
at the head quarters of Washington. 4 In the terms of their 
enlistment, it was stated that they were to serve in the New 
England States, or in New York and New Jersey ; and they 
were to remain in service for such time as the Court should 
determine, though assurance was given that they would prob- 
ably be discharged within three months. 5 Indeed, scarcely a 
week elapsed in which there was not some call upon the civil 
authorities, who were constantly in session, for bodies of the 
militia to march to head quarters near New York, or to Lake 
Champlain, or to the neighborhood of Rhode Island ; and 
there were frequent alarms within the state, which rendered 

1 Jour. H. of R. for July 3, 4, 5, ford, ii. 114, 115; Holland's Western 

and 9, 1776; Sparks's Washington, Mass. i. 215. 

iv. 42, 47 ; Thacher's Jour. 53 ; Lin- 3 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 322; Sparks's 

coin's Hist. Worcester, 114; Brad- Washington, iv. 125, note; Jour. H. 

ford, ii. 114. The two last were Whit- of R. for 1776 ; Lincoln's Worcester, 

comb's and Phinney's regiments, and 116; Bradford, ii. 118. 
they set out early in August. Mar- 4 Sparks's Washington, iv. 125, and 

shah's and Whitney's regiments were note, 126, 127, 129. 
ordered to Canada July 4. Jour. H. 5 Jour. H. of R. for Aug. 29, 

of R. for July 4, 1776! 1776 ; Bradford, ii. 119. 

Jour. H. of R. for 1776: Brad- 


chap, it expedient to increase the forces at Boston, or to station 


companies along the sea coast. 

1776. Hostilities had now continued for more than a year, and the 
consequences were beginning to be seriously felt. Many a 
father, who had a wife and little ones depending upon him 
for support, and whose means of subsistence were the products 
of his own toil, was compelled to leave his home and farm, and 
shoulder his musket to join the army. Thus the culture of 
the soil was neglected ; commerce was checked ; business was 
at a stand ; the country was largely drained of its specie ; the 
paper currency, substituted in its place, had so far depreciated 
in value that many were reluctant to receive it for debts, and 
it was difficult to procure with it the necessaries of life. 2 
Hence a financial gloom was rapidly settling down upon and 
overspreading the state, which became the more oppressive 
from the uncertainty of relief. Few had foreseen these evils ; 
nor was it easy to remove them while the energies of the peo- 
ple were principally absorbed in the struggle for their liber- 
ties. Many families in Massachusetts were in a suffering con- 
dition — deprived of their customary means of support, and 
obliged to depend upon the charity of others. Never was 
there a time when patriotism had been more tried, and when 
the call for self-sacrifice had been more imperative. And the 
demand was met with commendable promptitude. For not 
only did the General Congress resolve to sustain the currency, 
and protest against monopolies, 3 but the legislature of the state 

1 Jour. H. of R. for 1776; Sparks's 3 The General Congress, on the 
Washington, iv. 227; Bradford, ii. lltli of Jan. 1776, and the 14th of 
120. Jan. 1777, passed resolves in favor of 

2 Comp. Sparks's Washington, iv. sustaining the currency of the coun- 
1 13 ; and, on the difficulties in Mas- try, and condemning the conduct of 
sachusetts, see Bradford, ii. 120, 135, those who obstructed or discouraged 
&c. In the winter of 1776-7, the in- its circulation. Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 
habitants of Boston held a meeting to 22 ; iii. 16; Boston Gazette for March 
take into consideration the complaints 10, 1777. In the fall of 1776, also, 
of the poorer class respecting monop- the General Court of Massachusetts 
olies, and the high prices of articles in appointed a committee to meet others 
common use. from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and 



sought to devise measures for the public relief ; * and not only chap. 
did the towns cooperate with them in carrying out these meas- IV * 
ures, 2 but private liberality was abundantly displayed, and 1776 
those who had large means contributed of their affluence to 
those who had less. 3 Such generous conduct is worthy of all 
praise ; nor should it be forgotten that, as the clouds gath- 
ered, and the storm in its fury swept over the land, the noble 
purpose which animated all so far outweighed inferior im- 
pulses as to prompt philanthropy to succor the needy, and 
Christian liberality to answer with cheerfulness the numerous 
calls upon its benevolent regards. 

The treatment to which " tories," or " loyalists," should be 
subjected, was a point of considerable delicacy and difficulty. 
That most of those designated by these terms were sincere 
in their opinions, the candid of our day will doubtless con- 
cede ; for they proved their sincerity by submitting their 
persons to the severest indignities, and their property to 
confiscation. 4 They were naturally regarded with suspi- 
cion and dislike ; for how could they sympathize with the 

New Hampshire, at Providence, for 
the adoption of measures for the pub- 
lic relief; but the presence of the 
British prevented the meeting, and a 
new one was appointed at Springfield 
in the spring, at which New York was 
also represented, and a plan was re- 
ported which afforded some relief. 
Trumbull MS. Letter Book B, 101, 
under date Feb. 20, 1777 ; Austin's 
Life of Gerry, i. 219-223, 264 ; Jour. 
H. of R. for 1776, 1777 ; Bradford, 
ii. 121 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 

1 Almon's Renaembrancer, v. 57- 
62; Bradford, ii. 121. In 1777, an 
act to " prevent monopoly and op- 
pression" was passed in Massachu- 
setts, and sanctioned by the towns ; 
and, in 1778 and 1779, regulating 
statutes were passed by the General 
Congress, and a plan was adopted and 
carried into effect by most of the east- 
ern states, which was approved by the 
legislature of Massachusetts, though 

opposed by many of the citizens. Real 
Farmer, No. 4, in N. Y. Jour. ; Pem- 
berton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 
158; Bradford, ii. 172; Jour. H. of 
R. for 1778 and 1779. 

2 See the published histories of the 
different towns. Provisions of this 
kind were made every year during the 
war, and were of great service to those 
who would have otherwise perished 
from absolute want. 

3 Comp. Boston Gazette for March 
10, 1777, where the liberality of the 
citizens of Roxbury is commended. 
Instances of such liberality were not 
uncommon; and though there were 
occasional examples of individual self- 
ishness, they were sternly rebuked. 

4 The admirable work of Lorenzo 
Sabine, Esq., on the American loyal- 
ists, is worthy of being consulted by 
all who desire extended information 
relative to this class of persons. 


chap, cause of their country ? and if not in its favor, they must 
^3^, certainly be opposed. In such case, the question arose, Should 
1776. they be left unmolested, would not their countenance be given 
to the enemy? And would it be politic to allow them to act 
in this manner ? It is not surprising, in view of these facts, 
that stringent measures should have been advocated and 
adopted. A different result could hardly have been expected. 
And if these measures, in some cases, appear to have been too 
stringent, and the remedial process to have savored of revenge, 
it should be remembered that there were often circumstances 
which aggravated resentment, and that inexcusable instances 
of treachery were detected which demanded to be promptly 
and summarily checked. 1 
Jan. 2. The General Congress, at a quite early date, feeling the 
importance of thi* subject, earnestly debated it ; and, while 
they advised that the honest but misinformed should be treat- 
ed with lenity, " speedy and effectual measures " were recom- 
mended to be taken to "frustrate the mischievous machina- 
tions" of the "unworthy." 2 The course of Massachusetts 
was in accordance with these resolves ; and when a number 
of tories, who had fled to Halifax upon the evacuation of 
Boston, ventured to return, and threw themselves upon the 
mercy of the government, for the public security they were 
taken into custody, and most of them were imprisoned for 

1 Vigilance was required in all at least, not to oppose them. " He 
parts of the state to frustrate the that is not for us is against us," was 
schemes of those whose loyalty went their maxim ; and the conduct of all 
so far as to lead them to act against nations has confirmed its necessity. 
the patriot cause ; and self-protection In the midst of the excitement inci- 
sanctioned the exercise of such vigi- dent to a revolution, speculative dis- 
lance. Our sympathies may prompt tinctions have very little power over 
us to deplore the misfortunes of those the mind. Men act promptly, and 
whose chief offence was their loyalty ; take such measures as seem to be war- 
but this sympathy should not induce ranted at the time, without stopping 
a forgetfulness of the fact that the to investigate individual or exception- 
patriots were equally honest, and that, al cases. 

as the Americans as a people had sol- 2 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 6, 7. See 

emnly renounced their allegiance to also ibid. ii. 88 ; and comp. Galloway's 

try was expected to coincide with, or, 

Examination, Lond. 1779, p. 6, note. 


several months. Their conduct was likewise jealously watched, chap. 
and it was some time before confidence was fully restored. 1 ^J3l^, 

It was at a later date, however, that the greatest disturb- 1777 
ances prevailed, and all who persisted in abetting the royal- 1778. 
ists were treated with a severity proportioned to their of- 
fence. In some cases, they were seized by a company of 
armed men, and conducted to the " liberty pole," with which 
every town was graced, under which they were compelled to 
recant, and give bonds for their future good conduct. 9 In 
others, they were ingloriously tipped from the cart's tail, and 
commanded forthwith to depart from the neighborhood. 3 In 
others, they were treated to a substantial coat of tar and 
feathers. 4 The more obstinate were imprisoned ; and those 
who refused on any terms to yield were published in the 
papers as enemies to the country. 5 Of all crimes, that of 
aiding the enemies of America was viewed with the greatest 
abhorrence ; and those who were guilty were sternly rebuked, 
and held up as objects of merited censure. 6 

As the condition of the army was exceedingly discouraging, 
and the necessity for recruiting it had been pressed upon Con- 
gress, the provisions for the ensuing campaign, thanks to the 
energy of General Washington, were made on a larger scale 
than ever before — eighty-eight regiments, or seventy thousand 
men, being ordered to be raised for three years, or during the s 177( J- fi 
war. 7 The quota of Massachusetts was fifteen battalions ; 

1 Bradford, ii. 105. tones. In September, 1778, also, an 

2 Thacher's Jour. 21. act was passed to prevent the return 
« Tar vet in embryo, 1. pine, ° f certain refugees ; and in April and 

Shall run on tones' backs to shine; September, 1779, acts of confiscation 

Trees, rooted fair in groves of fallows, were passe d. Jour. H. of R. for 

Are growing tor our future gallows; 1*7*? o A i^-rn t> 4. r< i.* a 
And geese u.i hatched, when plucked in fray, 17 /b and 1779 ; Boston Gazette for 

Shall rue the feathering of that day." May 19, 1777; Bradford, ii. 171 J 

Trumbull's M'Fh 

Brooks's Medford, 171, 172. 

3 Boston Gazette for Apr. 21, 1777 ; 7 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 336 ; Pem- 
Barrv's Hist. Hanover, 113. berton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 78; 

4 Thacher's Jour. 2 1. Jour. Mass. H. of R. for Oct. 9, 1776 ; 

5 Thacher's Jour. 21. Galloway's Examination, Lond. 1779, 

6 In May, 1777, an act of the Gen- p. 19; Stedman's Am. War, i. 228; 
eral Court was passed relative to the Marshall's Washington, ii. 457 ; 



chap, and, soon after, a requisition was made for three more regi- 
^3i^ nients and a battalion of artillery — making, in all, about 
1776. thirteen thousand men, or more than one sixth of the whole 
establishment. 1 To facilitate this arrangement, and to pro- 
Oct. 15. mote its effectiveness, a committee was appointed to visit Gen- 
eral Washington, and, if necessary, to proceed to Philadelphia, 
to consult with Congress upon the subject of bounty and 
wages for the soldiers. 2 The difficulty of enlisting men had 
been every where felt, and in few of the states was a similar 
course pursued. 3 Hence, when the committee waited upon 

3 battalions. 

























says J. Ad- 

Works of J. Adams, iii. 82-84; 
Heath's Mems. 115 ; Thacher's Jour. 
61 ; Bradford, ii. 122. The propor- 
tions of the different states were as 
follows : — 

New Hampshire, 

Massachusetts Bay, 

Rhode Island, . . 

Connecticut, . . . 

New York, . . . 

New Jersey, . . . 

Pennsylvania, . . 

Delaware, . . . 

Maryland, . . . 

Virginia, .... 

North Carolina, . . 

South Carolina, . . 

Georgia, .... 
"The articles of war, 
ams, " and the institution of the army 
during the war, were all my work." 

1 In addition to these 88 battal- 
ions, 16 more were ordered to be 
raised, and 6 "out of the continent 
at large," — in all, 110,— with 3000 
horse, 3 regiments of artillery, and a 
company of engineers. Of these ad- 
ditional battalions, three were to be 
raised by Massachusetts, which were 
known as Jackson's, Lee's, and Hen- 
ley's regiments ; and the battalion of 
artillery from Massachusetts was 
known as Armand's legion. Heath's 
Mems. 116; J. Adams's Corresp. in 
Works, ix. 450 ; Jour. H. of R. for 
1776, &c. 

2 On the 20th of September, Con- 
gress appointed a committee of three 
— Roger Sherman, Elbridge Gerry, 

and Lewis — to visit head quar- 
ters at New York, to inquire into the 
state of the army ; and their report 
was made October 3, debated for sev- 
eral days, and adopted on the 8th. 
Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 359, 373, 379 ; 
Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 214, 215. 
The General Court of Massachusetts 
appointed their committees to visit 
the camps at New York and Ticonde- 
roga on the 15th of October. Jour. 
H. of R. for 1776, 120, 122, 131. 

3 Galloway, Examination before the 
House of Commons, Lond. 1779, 19, 
20, asserts that Congress actually 
raised in 1777 only 16,000 men, "not 
because the Congress had altered their 
resolution, but because the men were 
not to be had. They made every ex- 
ertion, as usual ; but they had lost in 
the Canada expedition, at Boston, 
where they were extremely sickly, 
killed in battle in the several engage- 
ments with the British troops, taken 
prisoners, and by deaths in the mili- 
tary hospitals southward of New York, 
I think I may safely say, upon good 
inquiry, nearly 40,000 men. The peo- 
ple, also, at that time, were more 
averse to the measures of Congress 
than the year before." On p. 16, he 
also says, " I had very good opportu- 
nities of knowing the state of the 
middle colonies, in which I include 
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, the Delaware counties, and 
Virginia. Gentlemen of fortune and 
integrity, on whom I should rely, 
came to me at Philadelphia, from 



Washington, and inquired whether an enlistment for one year chap. 
would not suffice, he replied, with warmth, " Good God ! gen- _J3^ 
tlemen, our cause is ruined if you engage men for only a 1776. 
year. You must not think of it. If we hope for success, we 
must have men enlisted for the whole term of the war." ! He 
had already suffered from the want of regular troops, and was 
determined, if possible, to prevent the recurrence of this evil 
in the future. 

The appointment of a board of war was another important Oct. 24. 
movement ; and this board was authorized to provide military 
stores and firearms for the use of the soldiers stationed in the 
state, as well as for those who were ordered abroad. 2 Several 
further detachments of the militia were likewise called for 
before the year closed, to strengthen the army at the north Nov. 
and in New York, and to assist in protecting the state of Dec. 
Khode Island, which was attacked by a party of British, six 
thousand strong, in a fleet from New York. 3 To induce those 

Norfolk, in Virginia, Williamsburg, 
Fredericksburg, the distant county of 
Botetourt, Fort Pitt, and from the 
intermediate parts of New York, New 
Jersey, Maryland, and the Delaware 
counties, from whom I made it my 
particular business to learn the state 
of the disposition of the people of 
those colonies, as well at that time as 
in the year 1776, when Sir William 
Howe was at Trenton. And I was 
informed by all of them that the pan- 
ic extended through all those parts, 
and at that time very few indeed en- 
tertained hopes of supporting the in- 
dependence." The reader must ob- 
serve that these are not the state- 
ments of a friend of America, but of 
one who was a loyalist at heart, and 
allowance must be made accordingly. 

1 Bradford, ii. 123 ; Winsor's Dux- 
bury, 136. According to the latter, 
Mr. Partridge, of Duxbury, was one 
of the committee from Massachusetts ; 
and it was to him that the exclama- 
tion in the text was made. 

2 Jour. H. of E. for Oct. 23 and 

24, 1776; Heath's Mems. 116; 
Bradford, ii. 124. This board was 
found so serviceable that it was re- 
newed annually for several years. 
The members for the year 1776-7 
were James Bowdoin, George Whit- 
comb, Joseph Palmer, Henry Brom- 
field, Samuel P. Savage, James Pres- 
cott, Samuel A. Otis, Jonathan Jack- 
son, and Jonathan Glover. Jour. H. 
of R for Oct. 30, 1776. 

3 Sir William Howe to Lord G. 
Germaine, Nov. 30 and Dec. 20, 

1776 ; Lord George Germaine to Sir 
William Howe, Jan. 14 and March 3, 

1777 ; Sparks's Washington, iv. 161, 
240; Bradford, ii. 125, 126, 128. The 
British troops were commanded by 
General Clinton, Lord Percy, Major 
General Prescott, and others ; and 
the militia from Connecticut and Mas- 
sachusetts, raised to oppose them, 
were placed under the command of 
Major General Lincoln, who had been 
sent on some time before to reenforce 
the continental army at New York. 


chap, who had enlisted from Massachusetts, and whose term of ser- 
^^_ vice would soon expire, to remain for a longer time, commit- 

1776. tees were sent to New York and Canada : but only a few could 
be persuaded to remain, and many returned as soon as the 
period of their enlistment was closed. 1 

The departure of such numbers of the troops from Massa- 
chusetts awakened apprehensions for the safety of its own 
borders ; and, as Boston was left comparatively defenceless, 
and a rumor was in circulation that the enemy designed to 
avail themselves of this opportunity to march through the 
country to its attack, the two regiments stationed in the capi- 
Dec tal and in the harbor were engaged to continue in the service 
for a short time longer, and two additional regiments were 
ordered to be raised. All these different establishments 
amounted to more than one half of the militia of the neigh- 
borhood, besides a large number from other counties in the 
state. 2 

The troops for the main army came in slowly ; and the 
General Court, to hasten their enlistment, proposed to offer 
an additional bounty ; but Congress discouraged the plan, as 
it would render it necessary for the other states to adopt a 
similar course, and some of them, it was believed, would not 
consent. Congress, indeed, offered a bounty of twenty dol- 
lars and a tract of land to each soldier enlisting ; but as the 
latter was a distant good, and not valued as it should have 
been, it produced little effect. 3 Massachusetts, accordingly, 

1777. assumed the responsibility of offering, in addition to the boun- 

Mar 22 

&c. ' ty of Congress, the sum of twenty pounds, to be paid in two 
equal instalments, and provided that the depreciation of paper 
received in payment of their wages should be made up by the 

1 Sparks's Washington, iv. 172, 3 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 336; Jour. 
253; Bradford, ii. 125. Mass. H. of E. for Oct. 21, 1776; 

2 Gen. James Warren to E. Gerry, Stedman's Am. War, i. 228 ; Almon's 
Jan. 15, 1777, in Austin's Life of Ger- Remembrancer, iv. 239 ; Thacher's 
ry, i. 255 ; Bradford, ii. 125, 128. Jour. 61. 


state, and in many cases furnished the men with clothing at chap. 
a fixed price, which prevented the loss that would have been ^^^1^ 
otherwise suffered, had their whole compensation been received 1776. 
in continental bills. 1 

In pursuance of this arrangement, four regiments were or- 
ganized, early in the new year, and, by the advice of Washing- j^J* 
ton, ordered to the northward, where the movements of the 
British indicated an intention of renewing the war, and where 
the American army had been reduced so low as to be scarcely 
adequate to the defence of Ticonderoga. 2 The remaining 
regiments were filled with greater difficulty ; nor were they 
completed until the following summer, although the people May 
were urged to enlist by all the considerations which could June, 
operate with free and patriotic citizens. 3 The addresses of the 
General Court were fervid and earnest. "We entreat you," Jan. 26, 


was their language, " for the sake of that religion, for the en- 
joyment whereof your ancestors fled to this country, for the 
sake of your laws and future felicity, to act vigorously and 
firmly in this critical situation of your country ; and we doubt 
not but that your noble exertions, under the smiles of Heaven, 
will insure you that success and freedom due to the wise man 
and the patriot." 4 The officers of the militia and the select- 

1 Resolves of March 22, April 30, 3 Boston Gazette for May 19, 1777; 
May 10, and June 4, 1777, in Jour. Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 257 ; J. Ad- 
H. of R. for 1777 ; Boston Gazette ams's Corresp. in "Works, ix. 464. In 
for Jan. 6 and Feb. 24, 1777; May, 1777, it was estimated that Mas- 
Sparks's Washington, iv. 317, note; sachusetts had in its pay 12,000 men, 
Bliss's Ttehoboth, 147 ; Bradford, ii. besides militia and those engaged on 
129, 130. Washington disapproved the sea coast within its own jurisdic- 
of this act. Sparks's Washington, iv. tion. Bradford, ii. 138. 

173. 4 Niles's Principles and Acts of the 

2 Heath's Mems. 116, 117; Al- Rev. 253-255; Bradford, ii. 131. 
mon's Remembrancer, v. 70, 179 ; There were great complaints of the 
Sparks's Washington, iv. 279, 361. extortions of the sutlers during the 
General Knox was in Boston in Feb- previous campaign; and this was one 
ruary of this year, to expedite the reason why many soldiers were re- 
raising of a battalion of artillery in luctant to enlist. Letter of S. Phil- 
Massachusetts. The four regiments lips, Jun., to E. Gerry, Feb. 22, 
named in the text Mere under the 1777, in Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 256 
command of Generals Brewer, Fran- et seq. 

cis, Bradford, and Marshall. Brad- 
ford, ii. 130, note. 


chap, men of the towns were requested to assist in this work ; and, 

^3l^ as every seventh man was called for, the proportion of each 

1777. town was definitely fixed, and a resolve was passed that the 

men should be raised. In some places, the citizens were 

draughted or taken by lot ; and all such were obliged to 

join the army in person or furnish a substitute. 1 

The apprehension that the British fleet, which was stationed 
at Newport, and which was preparing to leave, was destined 
for Boston, awakened for a time serious alarm, and led to the 
June 3. passage of an order that the forts in the harbor should be 
repaired and manned ; that a supply of provisions, intrench- 
ing tools, and military stores of every kind should be obtained, 
and lodged in magazines for the security of the state, and that 
the militia of the neighborhood should be " put upon the most 
respectable footing," and called for the defence of the town 
without delay ; but, as the enemy went to a diiferent quarter, 
they were soon dismissed, though two regiments were retained, 
and several companies, in the service of the state, were sta- 
tioned in the seaboard towns during the year. 2 

The naval armament of Massachusetts, including several 
privateers, and the larger vessels commissioned by Congress, 
were still successful in their cruises on the coast and in the 
latitude of the West Indies ; and richly-laden ships, bound 

1 Boston Gazette for June 30, 1777; raised and stationed at different places 

Sparks's Washington, iv. 426, note ; round the harbor of Boston, and the 

Bradford, ii. 131, 135. The troops two continental regiments on the sta- 

from Hampshire and Berkshire were tion. 

ordered to march by the Council Feb- 2 Jour. H. of E. for 1777, p. 11; 
ruary 9 ; others, from Berkshire, at Letter of Gen. Heath, of June 14, 
the request of General Gates, in April; 1777, in ibid. p. 26 ; Boston Gazette 
others, from Hampshire, by the Coun- for May 19, 1777; Sparks's Wash- 
on 1 , in May; and those for Ticondero- ington, iv. 395, note; v. 5, note; 
ga and Rhode Island, by the Council, Bradford, ii. 132, 133, 135, 136. The 
April 12. In March, also, companies town garrison was commanded by 
were ordered to be raised, and sta- Major Andrew Symmes ; and Gener- 
tioned at Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, al Heath took the place of General 
Kittery, Newbury port, Gloucester, S a- Ward as commander-in-chief — the 
lem, Marblehead, Plymouth, and Dart- latter having resigned his commis- 
mouth, beside? the companies already sion, and been elected to the Council. 


from these islands to Europe, with others on their voyage chap 
from Great Britain to New York to furnish the enemy with ^^ 
stores and clothing, were captured by the Americans. By 1777. 
these successes, which were highly encouraging, the troops 
were supplied with necessary articles which could not have 
been otherwise easily obtained ; and a calculation was made, 
in England, that, from July, 1775, to January, 1777, the Amer- 
icans had captured English merchant ships to the value of a 
million and a half sterling, besides a number of transports and 
provision vessels destined for the British troops. 1 Nor was it 
only from this quarter that supplies were received ; for, in 
consequence of the application of Franklin and Deane, who 
were at Paris, several ships arrived from France, laden with Mar ck 
woollen and linen goods, and large quantities of hardware, April, 
firearms, and military stores. One of these, the Amphitrite, 
which touched at Portsmouth, had on board sixty-one hundred 
stands of arms ; and, as the troops from Massachusetts were on 
the eve of marching for Ticonderoga, the General Court ap- 
plied for these arms ; their request was granted, and the new 
recruits, many of whom had been delayed from the want of 
muskets, were speedily equipped and sent on their way. 2 

In the summer of this year, an expedition was projected for June, 
the defence and relief of the people of St. John and other 
places on the Bay of Fundy, who were friendly to the United 

1 Stedman's Am. War, i. 259 ; Al- ii. 133, 134, 136. But 5000 stands 
mon's Remembrancer, iii. 343 ; iv. were granted to Massachusetts ; the 
312-318; v. 51, 108-110; Bradford, rest were otherwise disposed of. The 
ii. 133. No towns, probably, did troops for Ticonderoga were from 
more than Salem and Beverly in fit- Hampshire and Berkshire ; and 1500 
ting out vessels during the war ; and of the militia of those counties were 
it appears that, at a later date, from ordered out in April, and marched to 
March 1 to November 1, 1781, there New York. Before this date, the 
were fitted out from these ports at struggling states received much for- 
least 52 vessels, mounting 746 guns, eign assistance, obtained both from 
and manned by 3940 seamen. Salem individuals in France and from the 
Gazette, passim; Niles's Principles French government ; and private 
and Acts of the Rev. 376 ; Felt's Hist, merchants, in several of the sea- 
Salem, ii. 267-278, where the partic- ports, sent secretly cargoes of mil- 
ulars are given itary stores to this country. Diplo- 

2 Heath's Mems. 117 ; Bradford, macy of the U. S. 19. 


[chap. States, and called for assistance. This expedition was pro- 

w _ v _ w posed with the consent of the General Congress, but was 
1777. performed by the people and government of Massachusetts, 
and a regiment was raised in Maine, with a sufficient naval 
force to aid in its operations ; but unexpected difficulties arose, 
and the expedition was abandoned in its original form, though 
a single company from Maine, without exciting alarm in the 
British at Halifax, proceeded, some months after, to the head 
of the Bay of Fundy, took a small fort, and brought off sev- 
eral families. The Indians in that quarter appeared to be 
friendly ; and some of them were taken into the pay of the 
state, and served with a battalion raised for the defence of 
the eastern frontiers. 1 

July 4. The anniversary of the declaration of independence was 
celebrated in Boston with great parade. By order of the 
General Court, a sermon was delivered by Dr. Gordon, in the 
morning, before the representatives and councillors, and other 
public characters both civil and military ; a grand salute was 
fired on the occasion ; the militia were paraded ; a public din- 
ner was given ; fireworks were exhibited in the evening ; and 
other demonstrations of gratitude and joy signalized the fes- 
tivities, and attested the zeal and patriotism of the people. 2 

Yet the position of affairs was certainly perilous ; and the 
success of the British, under General Burgoyne, at the north- 
ward and in Canada, had been such as to inspire the liveliest 
alarm. Hence, as it was justly apprehended that, should they 
succeed in reaching Albany, and be joined by the forces sta- 
tioned at New York, the southern and northern states would 
be so separated that it would be easy to subdue them, no time 
was lost in laboring to prevent this catastrophe ; and it was 
immediately resolved to send additional troops to reenforce 

July 2. Gates. Already had the General Court ordered thither a 

1 Jour. H. of R. for Aug. 8, 1777; 2 Jour. H. of E. for 1777, 45, 
Williamson's Maine, ii. 458; Brad- 51 ; Boston Gazette for July 7, 1777 ; 
ford, ii. 138, 139. Bradford, ii. 140. 


portion of the troops from Hampshire and Berkshire, with chap. 
others from Worcester, Middlesex, Suffolk, Essex, and York, ^_^, 
after the abandonment of Ticonderoga j 1 and, relying upon 1777. 
" the public virtue, and the unbounded love of freedom and of 
their country with which the militia of the state had always 
been inspired," it was now ordered, at the solicitation of Wash- Aug. 8. 
ington, that the residue of the troops from the western coun- 
ties should follow, — with the exception of those * from the 
south part of Worcester, — and one half of those from Mid- 
dlesex and Essex. 2 In the absence of these forces, several 
companies of militia from Suffolk and Middlesex were called 
out to protect the capital, and to guard the military stores 
deposited there and at Cambridge and Watertown. 3 

This movement had the desired effect ; and, after Burgoyne 
— the "favorite .of the court of London, formed by nature 
with an active, enterprising disposition, and animated by a 
most extravagant love of glory " 4 — had penetrated the coun- 
try so far that he could not retreat without disgrace, a detach- 
ment from his army of fifteen hundred men, under Colonel 
Baum, was encountered by the gallant Stark near Bennington, Aug.16. 
with a body of two thousand militia, and defeated ; 5 subse- 
quently a more general engagement took place near Saratoga, Sep. 19. 
in which the Americans were victorious ; a third encounter, a 
few weeks later, also resulted in favor of the Americans ; and, Oct. 7. 

1 Jour. H. of R. for June 27, 1777; and these interesting relics may still 
Holland's Western Mass. i. ; Hamil- be seen on the walls of the senate 
ton's Works, i. 31. chamber, where they were placed by 

2 Jour. H. of R. for Aug. 6 and 8, order of the General Court. Jour. H. 
1777 ; Sparks's Washington, v. 18, of R. for Dec. 4, 1777. The whole 
30; Heath's Mems. 123; Thacher's army of Burgoyne is said to have con- 
Jour. 83, 84; Bradford, ii. 141-143. sisted of 7173 regular troops, English 

3 Sparks's Washington, iv. 500. and German, exclusive of a corps of 

4 Abbe Robins, New Travels artillery, and 700 or 800 men under 
through America, 59. the orders of Colonel St. Leger. All 

5 Stark sent to Massachusetts, as his officers were men of approved 
a present, one brass drum, a firearm merit ; and he was provided with a 
and bayonet, and a grenadier's cap considerable train of artillery, and 
and Hessian sword, as part of the tro- ammunition of every sort. Abbe 
phies taken by him at Bennington ; Robin's New Travels, 59. 

VOL. III. 10 


chap, twelve days later, the proud general, who had boasted of his 

^_J3l~ prowess, was compelled to surrender ; his troops were marched 

1777. to the vicinity of Boston, and quartered in barracks on Win- 

Oct. 19. 

' ter and Prospect Hills. This was " the turning point of the 
war of revolution in America ; " and the greater part of the 
American army, after the victory, was ordered from Saratoga 
to join General Washington, and went into winter quarters 
at Valley Forge. 1 
Sep. 17. The secret expedition, planned by the legislature of Massa- 
chusetts before the capture of General Burgoyne, was de- 
signed for an attack upon the enemy at Newport, in the hope 
of forcing them to leave that place. To effect this purpose, 
three thousand men were raised, from the counties of Bristol, 
Plymouth, and Barnstable, and the southern parts of Suffolk, 
Middlesex, and Worcester ; and these, with the state regiment 
of artillery, under Colonel Crafts, and the militia of Massa- 
chusetts, under Major General Hancock, were placed under 
General Spencer, of Connecticut, and marched to Providence, 
and from thence to Tiverton, where the stone bridge now 
stands ; but the expedition was unsuccessful, though the officer 

1 Jour. H. of R. for Dec. 12, 1777 ; were reluctant even to raise men for 

Pari. Debates for 1779, 420 et seq. ; their own protection, with the gallan- 

Boston Gazette for Aug. 25, Sept. 1 try of New York and the New Eng- 

and 29, Oct, 6, 13, and 27, and Dec. land States, who poured their troops 

1, 1777 ; Burgoyne's Narr. in Lib. into the northern department until 

Mass. Hist. Soc. ; Pemberton's Jour, the surrender of Burgoyne. The pris- 

in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 109, 116, 122- oners taken at Saratoga, known as 

124 ; Abbe Robin's New Travels, 59 the " convention prisoners," were held 

-67 ; Stedman's Am. War, i. 332, in duress until the spring of 1779 be- 

336, 344 et seq. ; Historical Anec- fore they were exchanged and per- 

dotes relative to the Am. War, Lond. mitted to return to England ; and 

1779, 26 et seq. ; Gordon's Am. Rev. during this time frequent difficulties 

ii. 248-269 ; Almon's Remembrancer, occurred with them, which called for 

v. 391 et seq. ; 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 25- the action of the General Court and 

30; Niles's Principles and Acts of the Continental Congress. _ Jour. H. 

the Rev. 94, 95; Heath's Mems. of R. for 1778 and 1779; Jour. Cont. 

125, 127, 129-135; Sparks's Wash- Cong.; Heath's Mems.; Sparks's 

ington, v. 42, 104 ; Thacher's Jour. Washington ; Marshall's Washington, 

91 et seq. ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. &c. J. W. Thornton, Esq., has in 

vi. 169 et seq. Washington, Writ- his possession the original document 

ings, v. 146, contrasts the conduct of signed by Burgoyne and his officers, 
the middle and southern colonies, who 



who conducted it " did his duty, and all that was in his chap. 
power." l J3_ 

The prosecution of the war on the part of the Americans 1777. 
had thus far been attended with enormous expense, so that 
the country was burdened with debt ; and, to provide for its 
payment, the General Congress recommended to the states to Oct. 3. 
raise by tax five millions of dollars, and apportioned to Mas- 
sachusetts eight hundred and twenty thousand dollars. 2 To 
meet this demand, the General Court voted to raise seventy-five 
thousand pounds by loans, and two hundred and fifty-four thou- 
sand seven hundred and eighteen pounds by tax ; and, as Massa- 
chusetts had already advanced large sums to the United States, 
a committee was appointed for the adjustment of these claims. 3 
The enlistments for the army also required attention ; and, as 
the period for which the militia at Rhode Island and the 
companies on the sea coast had engaged was about to expire, 
it was ordered that two regiments should be raised for one 

1 Jour. H. of R. for Sept. 13 and 
17, and Nov. 26, 1777 ; Pemberton's 
Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 126 ; Gor- 
don's Am. Rev. ii. 270, 271 ; Brad- 
ford, ii. 143 ; Peterson's R. Island, 
219; Winsor's Duxbury, 137. A 
similar enterprise was projected in 
Feb. 1777; but, after considerable 
preparation, it was laid aside as im- 
practicable with the force then at 
command. Sparks's Washington, iv. 
313, and note ; Bradford, ii. 137. 

2 Jour. Cont. Cong. ii. 374 ; Jour. 
H. of R. for Jan. 28, 1778; Pember- 
ton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. 127, 
128; Stedman's Am. War, i. 228; 
Almon's Remembrancer, iv. 219 ; vi. 
68 ; Niles's Principles and Acts of the 
Rev. 114; Bradford, ii. 152. The 
assessments were apportioned as fol- 
lows : — 

New Hampshire, . . . $200,000 
Massachusetts, . . . 820,000 
Rhode Island and Provi- ) , „„ ~ ~ 

dence, $ ' 

Connecticut, .... 600,000 
New York, 200,000 

New Jersey, . 


Pennsylvania, . 

. 620,000 

Delaware, . . 


Maryland, . . 


Virginia, . . 


North Carolina, 


South Carolina, 


Georgia, . . 


3 Jour. H. of R. for Jan. 28, Feb. 
19, and June 18, 1778; Bradford, ii. 
124, 152. On the 22d of October, 
1777, a bill was reported in the legis- 
lature of Massachusetts for assessing 
a tax of £305,642 14s. 3d. upon the 
several towns, &c, in the state, for 
defraying the public charge, and also 
for assessing a tax of £8883 7s. 6d., 
paid the representatives for their 
travel and attendance in the General 
Court in 1776. Jour. H. of R. for 

1777, p. 117. On the 19th of June, 

1778, a bill was also passed for raising 
£120,000 additional to the £254,718 
formerly voted. Jour. H. of R. for 
June 19, 1778. 


chap, year to serve in Rhode Island, or in any of the New England 

^J^, States ; and some of the militia were called for the defence of 
1777. the sea coast. 1 

This, however, was but one step taken, and for home de- 
fence. It was necessary to provide for the common defence. 

Feb! 28. Accordingly, a committee of two was sent to confer with 
Washington relative to the expediency of raising more than 
the quota required of the state, and to consult as to the time 
for which the men should be engaged. 2 The instructions of 
this committee were characteristic of Massachusetts ; and they 
were requested to assure his excellency that " this state, in 
testimony of their peculiar affection and respect for him, 
which he had so highly merited by his incessant and unwea- 
ried exertions in behalf of the country, as well as from what 
they owe to the common cause, will cheerfully cooperate with 
him as far as their ability will admit in endeavors to expel 
the enemy, and to free America from thraldom and slavery." 3 
The Assembly, likewise, in further proof of their good will, 
voted to furnish gratis a full suit of clothes to every soldier, 
from Massachusetts who joined the army ; and the field and 
other officers who had been some time in the service, and who 

May l. engaged to continue, had an additional sum granted them — 
the former of one hundred and fifty dollars, and the latter of 
one hundred and twenty dollars. 4 The delinquent towns were 
also urged to raise and equip the men required of them, 
and, in case of neglect, were heavily fined and subjected to 

1 Jour. H. of R. for Nov. 26, 1777, time in Massachusetts of enlisting de- 

and ibid. p. 130; Bradford, ii. 152, serters from the army of Burgoyne, 

153. For a list of the muster mas- and employing them as substitutes to 

ters appointed in December, 1777, fill up the regiments of the state ; but 

see Almon's Remembrancer, v. 41. against this practice Washington ear- 

2 Hon. Daniel Hopkins, and Sam- nestly protested, and his remonstrance 
uel Phillips, Jun., Esq., were the per- had the-desired effect. Sparks's Wash- 
sons chosen. Jour. H. of R. for Feb. ington, v. 287, 297 ; Jour. H. of R. 
28, 1778. for 1777, 1778. 

3 Jour. H. of R. for Jan. 7 and 4 Jour. H. of R. for May 1, 1778; 
Feb. 27, 1778 ; Bradford, ii. 153. It Bradford, ii. 153. 

seems that a practice prevailed at this 


prosecution. To fill up more speedily the sixteen regiments chap. 

of the state, two thousand men were further ordered to be [^ 

raised for eight or nine months, and apportioned upon the 1778 
towns ; fifteen hundred additional troops were levied, agreea- 
bly to a vote of the General Congress — thirteen hundred 
for the northern frontier, and two hundred for Rhode Island ; 
and the board of war was required to furnish arms and other 
accoutrements necessary for their equipment. 1 

The appeals to the people, to arouse them to exertion, were 
spirited and ardent. " Act like yourselves," it was said. 
" Arouse at the call of Washington and of your country, and 
you will soon be crowned with glory, independence, and 
peace. Present ease and interest we must part with for a 
time ; and let us rejoice at the sacrifice." " What words can 
paint the solid joys, the delightful recollections, which will 
fill the patriotic mind hereafter ! He who wishes for perma- 
nent happiness, let him now put forth all his strength for the 
immediate salvation of his country, and he shall reap immortal 
pleasure and renown. It is good for us to anticipate the joy 
that will fill our minds when we shall receive the reward of 
our labors ; when we shall see our country flourish in peace ; 
when grateful millions shall hail us the protectors of our coun- 
try, and an approving conscience shall light up eternal sun- 
shine in our souls." 2 

As a large British force remained at Newport through the 
spring and summer of 1778, and their fleet had the command 
of the waters in the neighborhood, the people of Massachu- 
setts, especially near Rhode Island, were kept in a state of 

1 Jour. H. of R. for April 23 and 1400 at Wilmington, and 1800 on the 

June 9 and 16, 1778; Sparks's Wash- North River. Hence the necessity 

ington, v. 359, 375 ; Hamilton's for recruiting the army, and the ur- 

Works, i. 37, 39, 43 ; Bradford, ii. gency with which Washington ap- 

154. At a council of war held on the pealed to Congress and to the states 

8th of May it appears that the Amer- for supplies. Sparks's Washington, 

can force then amounted to but v. 340, note. 

15.000, besides horse and artillery. 2 Boston Gazette for Jan. 6, 1778; 

Of these, 11,800 were at Valley Forge, Bradford, ii. 155. 


chap, continual alarm. Hence the duty which devolved upon tho 

^3^, General Court was peculiarly burdensome ; for, as there were 

1778. but few continental troops then on the station, they were obliged 

to keep the militia in service in great numbers for the whole 

of this, as for the preceding year. Yet little damage, compar- 

May 25. atively, was done by the enemy ; though, once, a body of six 
or seven hundred British and Hessians, under Lieutenant 
Colonel Campbell, was sent up the river, and landed at War- 
ren, where they burned the meeting house and parsonage, and 
a number of vessels and private dwellings, insulted and abused 
the inhabitants, and plundered them of their clothing, bedding, 

May 31. and furniture. A few days later, also, a party of one hundred 
and fifty, under Major Ayres, landed at Tiverton, and burned 
an old mill and some other buildings ; but the militia collect- 
ed, and obliged them to retire. 1 

These incursions provoked resentment ; and, later in the 

Aug. 7. season, the plan of expelling the enemy was revived. Gen- 
eral Sullivan, who had superseded General Spencer, 2 was sta- 
tioned in Rhode Island, with a considerable body of conti- 
nental troops ; and, as a thousand of the militia of Massachu- 
setts were on service in that quarter, two thousand more were 
ordered out, and enthusiasm ran so high that volunteer com- 
panies from Boston, Salem, Beverly, Gloucester, Newburyport, 
and Portsmouth offered their services. The force thus gath- 
ered amounted, in all, to nine or ten thousand men, 3 while the 
British, under Sir Robert Pigot, had but about sixty-five hun- 
dred, well fortified, at Newport. 4 The Marquis de la Fayette, 
whose name is familiar to every reader, and Major General 
Greene, came from the American camp to serve as volunteers 

1 Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. ~ Jour. Cont. Cong. Feb. 21, 1778 

Coll. ii. 138 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. Sparks's Washington, v. 266. 
350,-351; Almon's Remembrancer, 3 Heath's Mems. 190, 191; Sparks's 

vi. 323, 324; Bradford, ii. 160; Pe- Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 178. 
terson's Rhode Island, 220, 221. In 4 Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 

Bristol, 22 houses were burned, among 177. 
which was that of Governor Bradford. 


in this expedition ; and a number of distinguished citizens chap. 
followed their example. Major General Hancock under- v _J3l w 
took the command of one of the divisions ; and, as the four 1778. 
New England States were well represented, and Colonel 
Craft's regiment of state artillery was in the service, with 
Glover's and Yarnum's brigades from the continental army, 
the project seemed likely to be crowned with success, and not 
a doubt was entertained of its happy accomplishment. 1 

In addition to the American force, which was superior to 
the British, aid was likewise expected from another quarter. 
A powerful French fleet, under Count D'Estaing, had recently 
arrived on the coast, and was steering for Rhode Island ; and July 22. 
it was planned to make the attack in conjunction with the 
troops of which he had charge. 2 For this purpose, on Sunday, Aug. 9. 
about eight thousand of the Americans landed on the island, 
and took possession of two of the enemy's forts, and the whole 
territory north of their lines, about two miles from Newport, 
without a gun fired on either side — the' British retreating to 
theii works nearer the town. The advance of the besieging 
army was composed of the light troops, independent compa- 
nies, and fifty men from each brigade, commanded by Colonel 
Livingston ; the right wing was under Major General Greene, 
and the left under the Marquis de la Fayette ; General Han- 
cock commanded the second line ; and the reserve was under 
the charge of Colonel West. 3 In this position they awaited 

1 Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. ii. of 25 guns, and L'Aimable, of 26 
174. guns. Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. 

2 Hamilton's Works, i. 65, 67. The Coll. ii. 146 ; Sparks's Corresp. of the 
fleet of D'Estaing consisted of the Kev. ii. 160, 170-175. M. Gerard, 
Languedoc, of 90 guns, which was the who had been appointed minister 
admiral's flag ship ; the Tonnant, the plenipotentiary to the United States 
Cesar, the Zele, the Hector, the Mar- by the court of France, sailed in the 
seilles, the Protecteur, and the Guer- Languedoc, in April, with the Count 
rier, of 74 guns each ; the Fantasque, D'Estaing, and on the 6th of August 
the Provence, and the Vaillant, of was formally received by Congress. 
64 guns each ; the Sagittaire, of 50 Diplomacy of the U. S. 47-50. 
guns ; L'Engageante, of 36 guns ; the 3 Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. 
Champion, of 30 guns; L'Alcmene, Coll. ii. 148, 149. 


chap, the action of the French fleet ; but, just at this juncture, a 

^^ violent storm arose, which increased to a tempest, and which 
1778. raged so fiercely, at sea and on land, that not only was the 

to°i4. fleet shattered, but the army suffered severely, and a number 
of soldiers perished with the cold. 1 

By this disaster all hopes of foreign aid were reluctantly 
abandoned ; 2 and, though the besiegers pushed forward their 

Aug.29. works with vigor, towards the last of the month the British, 
who had recovered from their immediate panic, finding a large 
number of volunteers had left for Massachusetts, ventured to 
assault the American lines. But they were received with 
firmness ; and in the engagement, which lasted for several 
hours, many were killed or wounded on both sides. The 
Americans, however, retained their ground ; but as General 

Aug.30. Sullivan was apprised, on the next day, by a letter from 
Washington, that a reenforcement for the British was then on 
its way, it was unanimously agreed, in a council of war, to 
quit the island ; and the retreat was so skilfully conducted as 
to be attended with little loss. 3 The failure of this expedition 
was exceedingly mortifying — the more so from the fact that 
it was the third unsuccessful attempt within eighteen months 
for the expulsion of the British from this part of New 

Aug.22. The French fleet, before the withdrawal of the forces under 
Sullivan, had sailed for Boston, where they remained for sev- 

1 Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. On the not, and the next day he sailed for 
18th of August, orders were passed Boston. Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. ; 
by the Council for sending reenforce- Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 175- 
ments to General Sullivan. Jour. H. 188. 

of R. for 1778; Bliss's Rehoboth, 3 Jour. H. of R. for Sept. 16, 

154. 1778; Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. 

2 After the storm had abated, the Coll. ii. 149 ; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 
French fleet reappeared on the coast ; 369-375 ; Heath's Mems. 188-195 j 
and Generals Greene and La Fayette Thacher's Jour. 114; Sparks's Cor- 
went onboard the Languedoc to con- resp. of the Rev. ii. 188-194, 201- 
sultwith D'Estaing; but, though he 205; Bradford, ii. 162-164; Peter- 
was personally willing to aid in the son's Rhode Island, 221-229. 
attack, his captains and officers were 



eral weeks to repair their vessels and replenish their provis- chap 
ions. During this stay, La Fayette visited Boston, to confer ^3L. 
with the French admiral, and to prevail with him, if possible, 1778. 
to return to Newport, or, at least, to remain on the coast to 
cooperate with Washington. But he was unwilling to hearken 
to either proposition, and sailed for the West Indies. Pre- Nov. 3. 
vious to his departure, the British squadron appeared in the 
bay, within Cape Cod, and it was believed that a general 
engagement was meditated. To provide for this contingency, 
nine regiments of militia were ordered into Boston ; but, as 
Howe left the coast without venturing upon an attack, they 
were soon discharged. 1 

In the summer of this year, British commissioners arrived June 6. 
at New York, specially empowered by the English govern- 
ment, in accordance with Lord North's " conciliatory plan," to 
make propositions for a suspension of hostilities, with an ulti- 
mate view to reconciliation and peace. 2 As the defeat of 

1 Jour. H. of R. for Sept. 19, 21, 22, 
and Oct. 8, 1778 ; Lett, to Lord Vis- 
count Ho\ve,&c, Lond. 1779, 44-46 ; 
Heath's Mems. 195, 197 ; Franklin's 
Works, viii. 307 ; Sparks's Corresp. of 
the Rev. ii. ; Staples's Annals of Provi- 
dence, 256. Pending the absence of 
Lord Howe, several vessels from New- 
port sailed up the river, and landed a 
body of troops, under General Gray, 
at Bedford Village, in Dartmouth, 
who did much damage to the town 
by burning the vessels at the wharves 
and on the stocks, a large number of 
dwelling houses, and the public mag- 
azine. They then marched into the 
country some four or five miles, and, 
returning on the opposite side of the 
river, spreading devastation as they 
went, embarked before the inhabitants 
could collect to oppose them. From 
thence they proceeded to Martha's 
Vineyard, where they destroyed a few 
vessels, and made a requisition for 
fiieanns, money, cattle, and sheep; 
and of the latter they took off nearly 
10,000. Jour. H. of R. for Sept. 26, 

1778; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 376, 
377 ; Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. 
Coll. ii. 151 ; Sparks's Corresp. of the 
Rev. ii. 196-201, 205, 213, 247; 
Bradford, ii. 186, 187. Before the 
departure of D'Estaing, or Oct. 28, 

1778, an address was issued, in the 
name of the King of France, to " all 
the ancient French in North Ameri- 
ca." Niles's Principles and Acts of 
the Rev. 406, 407. _ 

2 Lord Carlisle, Sir Henry Clinton, 
Governor Johnstone, and William 
Eden, Esq., were four of the commis- 
sioners, and Lord Howe and Sir Wil- 
liam were the other two. Commis- 
sioners to negotiate with, the colonies 
were appointed by the English gov- 
ernment in the spring of 1776, and 
an interview was held with them, by 
the consent of Congress, but without 
arriving at a satisfactory result. Lett, 
to Lord Viscount Howe, &c, Lond. 

1779, 4-10; Thacher's Jour. 51, 52, 
57-59 ; J. Adams's Corresp. in Works, 
ix. 440-448; Sparks's Washington, 
iv. ; Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 


chap. Burgoyne had " awakened in England a desire for peace," 1 

^J^, and as it was believed that some of the Americans were 
1778. wearied with the expense and trouble of the war, and would 
gladly return to their allegiance, if pardoned, these gentlemen 
were authorized, not only to address the General Congress, 
but to treat with individual states. But the deceitfulness of 
the measure was easily seen through ; and, as it was regarded 
in all quarters as an artful plan to strengthen the enemy, and 
detach the Americans from their connection with France, 

Feb. 6. which had been recently consummated, 2 or, at least, to disturb 
the public councils by introducing elements of discord and 

Jun. 17. confusion, Congress unhesitatingly rejected these offers, and 
the people of the states applauded their firmness. None were 
disposed to relinquish the claim to independence which had 
been asserted, or to throw themselves upon the clemency of a 
king and his ministers, of whom pardon could be obtained 
only upon the terms of absolute submission. 3 

The commissioners, as may well be supposed, were chagrined 
at their failure, and could ill brook the treatment which their 

136, note ; Obs. on the Am. Rev. 58 for the King of France, for the friend- 

-62 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 91 ly European powers, and for the 

et seq. Lord North's conciliatory American States. Thacher's Jour, 

bill was passed March 21, 1778. 124, 125 ; Franklin's Works, viii. 

1 Franklin's Works, viii. 239, 240 ; passim ; Sparks's Diplomatic Corresp. 
Obs. on the Am. Rev. 72-78 ; Day's i. 355, 364 ; Lee's Arthur Lee, pas- 
Reflections on the Present State of sim ; Sparks's Washington, v. 325, 
England, 67 ; London Chronicle for note; Diplomacy of the U. S. 21, 28 
Feb. 11, 1779; Lord Mahon's Hist. -45; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 
Eng. vi. 206. 119, 149, 208, 209. 

2 On the 26th of September, 1776, 3 Trumbull MS. Letter Book B, 
Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, 176, 177 ; Obs. on the Am. Rev. 62 
and Arthur Lee were appointed by et seq. ; Collection of Papers, pub. by 
Congress as envoys to France ; and, Rivington at New York, in 1778; 
on the 6th of February, 1778, the Sparks's Washington, v. 318, and 
treaties of commerce and alliance note, 323, 401-403 ; Franklin's 
were signed by them, on the part of Works, viii. 237-248 ; Thuchers 
America, and by M. Gerard, secretary Jour. 133 et seq. ; Jour. Cont. Cong. 
of the king's council, on the part of iv. ; Day's Reflections, &c, 17 ; 
France. The rejoicings in America, Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 114, 
on the reception of these tidings, were 141, 160, 195 ; Almon's Remembran- 
great ; and orders were issued to the cer, vii. 8 et seq. ; viii. 40-72 ; Lord 
army, May 5, to parade, with huzzas Mahon's Hist. Eng. vi. 215 et seq. 


propositions had received. Hence, to cover their retreat, and chap. 
to put on it the best face, they issued a manifesto, couched in ^3lw 
plausible but severe terms, declaring that persistency in the 1778. 
rejection of their offers would be " considered as crimes of the 
most aggravated kind," and giving the people forty days to 
return to their allegiance, or abide the consequences. 1 The 
reply of Congress was firm and decisive ; and, after briefly Oct. 30. 
reciting the causes which had led to the resistance of Amer- 
ica, and the cruelties which had been practised by the enemy 
at different times, they declared that, " since their incorrigible 
dispositions could not be touched by kindness or compassion, 
it became their duty by other means to vindicate the rights of 
humanity." If, therefore, it was added, " our enemies presume 
to execute their threats, and persist in their present mode of 
barbarity, we do solemnly declare and proclaim that we will 
take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter others from a 
like conduct." And, appealing to God to witness the recti- 
tude of their intentions, they closed by saying, " As we are not 
moved by any light and hasty suggestions of anger or revenge, 
so, through every possible change of fortune, we shall adhere 
to this our determination." 2 

The conduct of the ministry in sanctioning this commission 
was condemned in England, as well as in America ; and, when 
the subject was debated in Parliament, in the winter, the Mar- Dec. 4. 
quis of Rockingham, in the House of Lords, in speaking of 
the proclamation which the commissioners had issued, declared 
it to be " contrary to humanity, to Christianity, and to every 

1 Collection of Papers pub. by Pviv- ifesto, it was said, " England will now 
ington ; Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. throw away the scabbard in earnest. 
H. Coll. ii. 153; Obs. on the Am. She will resolve never to treat with this 
Rev. 111-117. contemptible, this temporary thing, 

2 Jour. Cont. Cong, for Oct. 13, called a Congress ; and she will con- 
1778 ; Collection of Papers pub. by vince the world that, though she may 
Pdvington; Obs. on the Am. Rev. be slow to anger, perdition waits on 
118-120 ; Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. him that dares insult her." Letter to 
H. Coll. ii. 154; Austin's Life of Ger- the People of America, Lond. 1778. 
ry, i. 283-286. In reply to this man- 


CHAP, idea of virtuous policy." The Bishop of Peterborough also 
^^_ observed that he " saw, in the account of extraordinaries, 

1778. charges were made for the tomahawk and scalping knife ; and 
that he supposed, from the terms of the proclamation, such 
expense would be continued." And Lord Camden, in still 
stronger terms, remarked that the proclamation " held forth 
a war of revenge such as Moloch in Pandemonium advised ; 
and that it would fix an inveterate hatred in the people of 
America against the very name Of Englishmen, which would 
be left as a legacy, from son to son, to the latest posterity." 
In the House of Commons, the speeches were equally pointed ; 
and Burke exclaimed, " Against whom are these dreadful men- 
aces pronounced ? Not against the guilty ; but against those 
who, conscious of rectitude, have acted to the best of their 
ability in a good cause, and stood up to fight for freedom and 
their country." l 

Nov. 6. In the fall of this year, General Gates was appointed to 
supersede General Heath in the command of the forces sta- 
tioned in Massachusetts ; and, on his arrival, with his lady 
and suite, he was welcomed by the people with flattering marks 
of affection and esteem. Distinguished for his energy, his 
ability, and courage, his presence reanimated the zeal of the 
soldiery ; and, as there was reason to apprehend an attack 
from the enemy, he remained at Boston and Providence through 

1779. the winter, and, on leaving, in the spring, publicly expressed 
his approval of the conduct of the citizens at large, and of the 
legislature, and particularly eulogized the battalion of state 
troops, formerly commanded by Colonel Crafts, but then under 
the charge of Lieutenant Colonel Revere. 9 

1 Parker's Gen. Advertiser for Dec. Mems. 197, 198; Bradford, ii. 170. 
12, 1778; Gordon's Am. Rev. ii. 336; A commendatory article on the con- 
Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. duct of General Heath was also pub- 
156, 157 ; Bradford, ii. 169, 170. lished in the journals of the day, and 

2 Boston Gazette for Nov., 1778; is copied in his memoirs. 
Gordor' c Am Rev. ii. 397 ; Heath's • 




It will be perceived that, up to this date, no serious engage- chap. 
nient had for some time occurred within the limits of Massa- ^J3l* 
chusetts proper, and that the zeal of its citizens had been 
principally displayed in furnishing recruits to the army abroad, 
and in providing for the wants of the suffering at home. If 
the annals of this period, however, do not admit of a narrative 
glowing with the details of battle and siege, it must not be 
inferred that no active part was taken by this commonwealth 
in the series of movements which were reflecting such credit 
upon the American arms ; but, on the contrary, wherever a 
stand was successfully made against British aggression, and 
wherever valor was called for in the assault, there were found 
bodies of men sent out from Massachusetts, and none were 
more active and resolute than they. Yet it should ever be 
remembered that the independence of America was secured by 
the bravery of the thirteen United States, and that no one 
state can arrogate to itself the honor of sustaining single- 
handed and alone the burden of the war. It is a common 
inheritance that we have derived from our ancestors ; and as 
such we should transmit it as a legacy to our children. 1 

At the opening of the new year, the situation of affairs was 1779. 
discouraging and gloomy. The country was heavily burdened 
with debt ; soldiers and their families were subjected to in- 
credible hardships and sufferings ; with the depreciation 2 in 


1 The following table may be use- 
ful, for reference, to show the number 
of annual terms of service furnished 
to the continental ranks by each state 
during the war : — 

New Hampshire 


Rhode Island, 

Connecticut, . 
New York, . 
New Jersey, 
Delaware, . 
Maryland, . 
Virginia, . . 




North Carolina, 
South Carolina, 
Georgia, . . . 


Hildreth's U. S. iii. 441. It will be 
seen, from this table, that Massachu- 
setts alone bore at least one fourth of 
the whole burden of the war ; that 
the four New England States bore 
one half of the burden ; while Mary- 
land, Virginia, North Carolina, South 
Carolina, and Georgia, together, bore 
but one fourth of that burden. 

2 The continental bills were now 


chap, the currency, the salaries of the clergy, which remained as 
^J3iw b e f° re the war, were reduced to a mere pittance, utterly inad- 
1779. equate to their comfortable support, and their parishioners 
were unable, and in some cases unwilling, to afford them re- 
lief; lukewarm patriots were murmuring and complaining; 
symptoms of insubordination were manifested in various quar- 
ters ; and the utmost vigilance and prudence were required to 
steer the ship of state successfully through the breakers which 
threatened its destruction, and bring it in safety to the desired 
haven. 1 We, who live in more prosperous times, and who are 
blessed with an abundance of temporal goods, — whose com- 
merce encircles the habitable globe, and whose appliances of 
industry and agricultural resources are infinitely superior to 
those which our fathers enjoyed, — can form but a faint idea 
of the difficulties and obstacles which were thrown in their 
way, and which awakened in the most resolute forebodings of 
evil which nothing but unconquerable energy could overcome. 
That they did succeed, in spite of these difficulties, in reconcil- 
ing jarring interests, and in infusing a hopeful spirit into the 
people, is sufficient to convince the most sceptical of their 
worth, and is an ample atonement for occasional faults, which 
the discerning might point out, and for which it is needless to 
offer an apology. The heroes of the revolution were resolute 

so greatly depreciated, that they products of the country ; and meas- 
would not pass for more than one ures were taken to prevent the great- 
tenth or one twentieth of their nomi- er depreciation of the public paper, 
nal value ; and, as the state had prom- A meeting was soon after held in 
ised its soldiers a bona Jide compen- Boston to adopt regulations in con- 
sation, their families were provided for formity with these arrangements ; and 
by the selectmen of the towns, and in October a general convention was 
clothing was furnished the soldiers held at Hartford, to devise a general 
themselves. plan of checking the mischiefs of ex- 
1 To remedy the evils alluded to in tortion and speculation. Bradford, ii. 
the text, conventions were held at 180, 1S1 ; Shattuck's Concord, 122, 
Concord in July and October, 1779, 123. On the condition of the cur- 
which were attended by deputies from rency at this time, comp. Franklin's 
more than three fourths of the towns, Works, viii. 328-330, and Felt on the 
except Maine and the county of Berk- Currency, 
shire; prices were fixed for all the 


men ; and for all they accomplished they deserve to be remem- chap. 
bered with affectionate regard. ^iZlw 

The financial embarrassments of the country again demand- 1779. 
ed the attention of Congress ; and a call was made upon' the 
several states to raise the sum of fifteen millions of dollars, to 
liquidate outstanding claims, and for the immediate expenses 
of the war. 1 Of this sum, two millions of dollars were ap- 
portioned to Massachusetts ; and the amount was to be passed 
to the credit of the United States, to be accounted for at a 
future day, and was to be expended by the state for purposes 
of general concern and utility. 2 The usual provisions for 
home defence were likewise made by the legislature ; and, as 
a note had been received from General Gates requesting that Feb. 15. 
the militia should be called out to assist in fortifying the 
harbor, and to collect stores and provisions, a memorial was 
addressed to Congress upon the subject, desiring their advice, 
and soliciting aid from the continental army, if the enemy 
should invade the state. 3 A resolve was likewise passed for April, 
men to be stationed in the towns on the sea coast liable to be 
approached by the enemy's ships, and at Falmouth, in Barnsta- 
ble county, which had suffered from their depredations. 4 

1 Jour. Cont. Cong, for Jan. 1779; Bradford, ii. 175. The committee 
Bradford, ii. 172. At a later date, " to examine the present state of the 
it was voted to raise 45 millions of fortifications in and about Boston, 
dollars, to be paid in bills of a former and the harbor thereof, and report 
emission ; and of this sum Massaehu- what may be necessary further to be 
setts was to pay 6 millions. Brad- done in addition thereto, or in the re- 
ford, ii. 178. pairs thereof," consisted, on the part 

2 Bradford, ii. 172. On the 27th of the House, of Colonel Coffin, Gen- 
of February, 1779, an engrossed bill eral Hancock, Colonel Dawes, and 
was read and passed to be enacted, in General Lovell. A note was also re- 
the Massachusetts legislature, " for ceived from General Gates, Feb. 27, 
apportioning and assessing a tax of " representing the necessity of raising 
£1,014,422 7s. 8d. upon the several men to guard the stores at Spring- 
towns and other places in this state field," which was " read, and thereup- 
hereinafter named, for defraying the on ordered that Mr. Gorham bring in 
public charges ; and also for assessing a resolve empowering the Council to 
a further tax of £12,383 16s. 9d. paid make the necessary provision and or- 
the members of the House of Repre- der for raising a guard." Jour. H. of 
sentatives for their travel and attend- It. for Feb. 27, 1779. 

ance in the General Court for the 4 Jour. H. of R. for Feb. 15, 1779. 
vear 1778." Jour. H. of R. for Feb. Comp. also ibid, for April 7 and 9, 
27, 1779. 1779, and Bradford, ii. 174. 

Jour. H. of R. for Feb. 15, 1779 j 


These, however, were but preliminary steps ; for reenforce- 
ments were called for by General Washington, and, after some 
1779. discussion, it was voted to raise two thousand men, if neces- 

Mar 24 

and sary, in addition to those already in the continental army and 
' at Rhode Island, and those in Boston and the sea-coast towns. 
The distribution of these was as follows : fifteen hundred 
June were enlisted for nine months during the summer, by an appeal 
Jul y- to the towns and the offer of a bounty, to fill up the incom- 
plete regiments in the service ; and the remaining five hun- 
dred were sent to Rhode Island. 1 A regiment of light infantry 
was also raised for a year to serve in Massachusetts or either 
of the New England States ; and a large quantity of military 
stores was conveyed from Boston to Springfield, to be depos- 
ited in the arsenal recently established at that place. 2 
June. The expedition to the eastward was the principal incident 
of the war this year, so far as Massachusetts was concerned. 
This expedition was planned with the knowledge of the Gen- 
eral Congress, and was designed for the expulsion of the 
British from the Penobscot, who had established themselves, 
under General M'Lean, at Castine, and erected a fort. 3 The 
force of the enemy was known to be small, — not more than 
a thousand men, — and the prospect of a reenforcement was 
conceived to be hopeless. Hence the undertaking was popu- 
lar in Maine, and volunteers offered their services with alac- 
rity. Prominent merchants also favored the plan, and char- 

1 Jour. H. of R. for April 7, dition, &c, for encouraging the fixing 

9, 15, 21, 26, 27, 30, 1779; Brad- out armed vessels to defend the sea 

ford, n. 176. Eight hundred of the coast of America, and for erecting a 

militia were also called out in June for court to try and condemn all vessels 

six months, for the defence of Rhode that shall be found infesting the 

Island, agreeably to an arrangement same." 

made some time before at Springfield. 2 Bradford, ii. 176. 

On the 16th of April, likewise, a bill 3 Two years later, or in 1781, the 

was passed "for the increase and en- English government again projected 

couragement of the marine of this operations on the sea coast of the 

state, and for raising the sum of New England provinces, and the set- 

£50,000 for that purpose ; " and, on tlement of the country about Penob- 

the 26th, an act was reported in "ad- scot. Sparks's Washington, viii. 521. 


tered their vessels for the conveyance of the troops ; and fifteen chap. 
hundred men were ordered to be raised by the General Court, ^J3^, 
in addition to the marines on board of the public vessels ; but 1779. 
only about nine hundred engaged, and of these some were 
pressed into the service. 1 The fleet consisted, in all, of nine- 
teen armed vessels and twenty-four transports, carrying three 
hundred and forty-four guns, and was " as beautiful a flotilla 
as had ever appeared in the eastern waters." 2 Its commander, 
Richard Saltonstall, of ITew Haven, Connecticut, was " a man 
of good capacity and of some naval experience, but of an ob- 
stinate disposition ; " and the commander of the land forces, 
Solomon Lovell, of Weymouth, Massachusetts, was " a man of 
courage and proper spirit, a true old Roman character, that 
would never flinch from danger," but -unaccustomed to the 
charge of an expedition in actual service. 3 Peleg Wadsworth, 
of Duxbury, also had charge of a portion of the troops, as 
adjutant general of the Massachusetts militia ; 4 and the super- 
intendence of the ordnance was intrusted to Lieutenant Colonel 
Revere. 5 

The celerity with which this expedition was planned and July 20. 
set forth reflected much credit upon the parties concerned in 
it ; and in a very short time the armament made its appear- July 25. 
ance before the new fortress. Three days later, a landing was July 28. 
effected ; but the difficulties of the enterprise were more for- 
midable than had been anticipated. A steep precipice, two 
hundred feet high, was to be scaled, in the face of an enemy 
securely posted ; but the parties succeeded in gaining the 
heights, and the engagement commenced. The conflict was 

1 Bradford, ii. 179 ; Williamson's son's Maine, ii. 471. 

Maine, ii. 471. 4 He had been in actual service 

2 At the head of the armament was under General Ward, and commanded 
the Warren, a continental frigate of a regiment from Essex to Rhode Is- 
32 guns. Of the others, there were land in the expedition under Sullivan. 
9 ships, 6 brigs, and 3 sloops. Thach- Williamson's Maine, ii. 47 1 ; Winsor's 
er's Jour. 166 ; Williamson's Maine, Duxbury, 158. 

ii. 470. 5 Wiiliamson's Maine, ii. 472. 

3 Thacher's Jour. 170; William- 
VOL. III. 11 


chap, short, but exceedingly sharp. The assailants, four hundred in 
^J3l~ number, lost one hundred ; and the enemy fled, leaving thirty 
1779. killed, wounded, and taken. Unfortunately, the movements 
of the Americans were not properly seconded by the marines 
from the fleet, and their situation became critical. All that 
could be done, therefore, was to throw up slight intrenchments 
within seven hundred yards of the fort ; and at a council of 
war, held the same day, it was decided to despatch messengers 
to Boston for aid. Before this arrived, the British were re- 
Aug.i3. enforced by a fleet of seven sail, under Sir George Collier ; 
and the Americans, satisfied of the superiority of their oppo- 
nents, abandoned the siege, and hastily retreated. So fruitless 
an enterprise awakened chagrin ; and the whole country was 
filled with " grief and murmurs." The pecuniary damage to 
the finances of the state was a great misfortune ; the loss of 
property was seriously felt ; and the conduct of the officers 
was severely reproved. 1 

The three years' term for which enlistments had been made 
for the national army was now about to expire ; and, as the 
war yet raged, and but few had enlisted to serve till it ended, 
it was necessary to provide for this contingency by the reenlist- 
ment of those already engaged, or by raising fresh levies. A 
committee was accordingly sent to the army, to labor for the 
former purpose ; and they were furnished with funds, to ena- 
ble them to accomplish the object of their mission. 2 In the 
midst of these arrangements, Congress, at the instance of 
General Washington, applied to Massachusetts for a reenforce- 

1 On this expedition, see Boston mission in the service of the state, 
Gazette for Mar. 18 and 25, and Apr. while Lovell and Wadsworth were 
1 and 8, 1782 ; Thacher's Jour. 166 honorably acquitted. 
-170 ; Heath's Mems. 235 ; Sparks's 2 Bradford, ii. 183. The sum placed 
Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 460-462 ; in the hands of the committee was 
Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. ii. $200,000 ; and they were authorized 
172; Bradford, ii. 178-180; Wil- to offer a bounty of $300 to every 
liamson's Maine, ii. 468-478. A court soldier reenlisting. The sum of 
of inquiry was held in the fall ; and $500,000 was also remitted to Gen- 
Commodore Saltonstall was declared eral Heath for a similar purpose, 
incompetent ever after to hold a com- 


ment of two thousand men ; and an order was issued to raise chap. 
theni in the eastern and inland counties. But this could not ^3^w 
be effected without some difficulty ; and the mustering com- 1779. 
mittees were authorized to offer a bounty in addition to that 
which the Congress allowed, and the towns were required to 
advance thirty pounds to every one enlisting. 1 

The national debt had become enormous, and was nominally 
rated at two hundred millions of dollars. The depreciation 
of the paper currency had also reached such a point as to be 
" the burden of America ; " and, as all the states were respon- 
sible for the payment of this debt, and the whole property of 
the country was virtually mortgaged, unless something could 
be done for immediate relief it was feared that the nation 
would be reduced to bankruptcy. In this sad posture of pub- 
lic affairs, a circular was addressed to the people by Congress, Sep. 13 
designed to convince them that the United States were " able 
and willing" to redeem the bills which had been put into 
circulation. " Suppose," it was said, " the emissions should 
amount to two hundred millions of pounds at the conclusion 
of the war, and that, exclusive of supplies from taxes, the loan 
should amount to one hundred millions : then the whole na- 
tional debt will be three hundred millions. There are, at 
present, three millions of inhabitants in the thirteen states. 
Three hundred millions of dollars, divided amongst these, will 
give to each person one hundred dollars ; and is there an indi- 
vidual in America unable, in the course of eighteen or twenty 
years, to pay that sum ? " The ability to meet these demands 
was further argued from a consideration of the sums formerly 
withdrawn from the country by the English government in 
the way of trade ; notwithstanding which, the colonies grew 
rich. And, in future, would not the whole world be open to 
their commerce ? And, as the population increased, and the 

1 Jour. H. of R. for 1779; Thacher's Jour. 178; Heath's Mems. 222; 
Bradford, ti. 184. 




chap, industrial resources of the country were developed, would not 
^J^, the tide turn in their favor ? To violate their plighted faith 
would be ruinous to their credit. And it was the interest of 
all to sustain the country, and share its burdens. 1 

Happily for America, the cloud which lowered so darkly 
over its prospects was dissipated before irreparable damage 
was sustained. Their desperate struggle had awakened 
abroad the liveliest sympathy ; and, by the aid of their agents, 
who pleaded their cause with signal ability, loans were obtained 
Jun!n from Holland and France ; 2 and the nation, which appeared 
July 16. to be tottering to its ruin, though its embarrassments were 
still great, was inspired with fresh vigor to do battle with Old 
England, and to wrest from her a speedy acknowledgment of 
independence. Had it not been for this change, so peculiarly 
favorable, it is difficult to say what might have been the re- 
sult ; for if the case of Massachusetts may serve to illustrate 
the condition of the other states, the valuation of its whole 


1 Jour. Cont. Cong, for Sept. 13, 
1779 ; J. Adams's Letters to Dr. Cal- 
koen, 43, ed. 1786 ; Address of the 
Legis. of Mass. to the Inhabitants of 
the Commonwealth on Taxes, 1781 ; 
Pemberton's Jour, in 1 M. H. Coll. 
ii. 172-175. The " continental cur- 
rency," so called, " consisted of small 
pieces of paper, about two inches 
square. The one dollar bills had an 
altar, with the words, Depressa resur- 
git, The oppressed rises. The two 
dollar bills bore a hand making a cir- 
cle with compasses, with the motto, 
Tribulatio ditat, Trouble enriches. The 
device of the three dollar bills was an 
eagle pouncing upon a crane, who was 
biting the eagle's neck, with the motto, 
Exitus in dubio,The event is doubtful. 
On the five dollar bills was a hand 
grasping a thornbush, with the inscrip- 
tion, Sustine vel abstine, Hold fast or 
touch not. The six dollar bills repre- 
sented a beaver felling a tree, with the 
word, Perseverando, By perseverance 

we prosper. Another emission bore 
an anchor, with the words, In te, Dom- 
ine, speramus, In thee, Lord, we 
trust. The eight dollar bills dis- 
played a harp, with the motto, Majo- 
ra minoribus consonant, The great 
harmonize with the little. The thirty 
dollar bills exhibited a wreath on an 
altar, with the legend, Si recte fad- 
es, If you do right, you will succeed." 
Lewis's Lynn, 217. For an account 
of the expenses of the revolutionary 
war, amounting, in the whole, to at 
least $135,193,703, see Pitkin's Sta- 
tistics of the U. S. 27, 28, ed. 1835. 

2 Mem. to then- High Mighti- 
nesses the States General of the 
United Provinces of the Low Coun- 
tries ; Address and Recommendations 
to the States by Congress, Boston, 
1783, 28-38 ; Sparks's Franklin, ix. 
passim ; Washington to Hamilton, 
March 4, 1783, in Writings, viii. 388 
-391 ; Diplomacy of the U. S. 137- 
151: Bradford, ii. 210. 



property was but eleven millions of dollars, while its debt was chap. 
five millions. 1 w^Zl. 

The year 1780 was distinguished by few incidents bearing 178O. 
immediately upon the subject of this chapter ; 2 nor, indeed, 
from this date to the end of the war, did any thing remarkable 
occur in Massachusetts -which deserves to be particularly men- 
tioned in this place. It was at the south that hostilities were 
principally raging ; and the battle grounds of this period must 
be sought in that quarter. That the times were gloomy no 
one can doubt. Throughout the country, the sufferings of the 
people were almost incredible. The lifeblood of the nation 
had been poured out like water. There were desolate homes 
in every town. Family ties had been broken and sundered. 
The old had grown gray in military service ; and the young 
had shot up to a premature manhood. Cities and dwellings 
were falling to decay ; and the half-tilled soil, covered with 
weeds, and the ruined fences, which scarcely kept out starving 
cattle, told of the hardships the yeomanry had endured. 3 

1 The nominal debt was two hun- 
dred millions ; but, on the calcula- 
tion of forty for one, the actual debt 
was five millions. The valuation of 
the state, eleven millions, is supposed 
to have been too small, and that it 
should have been double that amount. 
Bradford, ii. 189. 

2 On the 19th February, 1780, a 
report was under consideration in 
Congress for estimating the supplies 
to be furnished by the several states 
for the current year, and the prices at 
which the several articles should be 
credited to the states which furnished 
them ; and this subject, fruitful in 
vexation as often as it occurred, led 
to difficulties between the Massachu- 
setts delegates and Congress, which 
resulted in the withdrawal of Mr. 
Gerry. Massachusetts, it seems, had 
become jealous of an attempt on the 
part of the other members of the 
confederacy to load her with an un- 
reasonable weight, and had frequent- 

ly complained of being treated like a 
willing horse, whom its drivers were 
compelling to a fatal exertion. The 
delegates accordingly opposed the as- 
sessment ; and Mr. Gerry moved a 
recommitment of the report, which 
was refused. His treatment on this 
occasion was such as to cause great 
offence ; and his complaint was laid 
before the General Court, and the 
House voted to sustain him. Austin's 
Life of Gerry, i. 319-326. 

3 In the spring of 1781, General 
Heath, whom Washington character- 
izes as "an officer whose high rank 
and consideration entitle him to par- 
ticular notice and attention," was sent 
to the Eastern States to represent the 
distresses of the army for the want of 
provisions, &c, and to urge more vig- 
orous measures for forwarding sup- 
plies. Sparks's Washington, viii. 36, 
39, 43, and Corresp. of the Rev. iii. 
312. Comp. also ibid. iii. 222, on the 
mission of General Knox, and ibid. 


Finally, early in 1782, after the war, which had "proceeded 
on the grossest impolicy," l had continued for seven years, and 
had been attended with the loss, on both sides, of thousands 
of lives and millions of property, the English government, 
wearied with the fruitless and desperate struggle, and hope- 
less of success, began to think seriously of overtures of peace. 
The reverses her arms had sustained in America, the surren- 
der of Cornwallis, the series of victories which had crowned 
with immortal honor the career of Washington, the embarrass- 
ment of her finances, the difficulty of sustaining longer a 
burden of which all classes bitterly complained, and the con- 
sciousness that by persisting in her course she would be 
involved in a continental war, already commenced, and far 
more disastrous to her interests than any profit which could 
possibly accrue from the reduction of the colonies, if effected, 2 
— all these considerations, joined to the remonstrances of 
influential citizens of the realm, and the change in the minis- 
try which was evidently approaching, were weighty arguments 
in favor of a cessation of hostilities, and a retreat from the 
position she had so long maintained. 

The preliminary motion on the subject of peace was made by 

General Conway, who was respected on all sides as a gallant 

soldier and an accomplished gentleman ; but it was rejected by 

Feb. 27. a majority of one. 3 Five days later, the motion was renewed ; 

iii. 220, on the mission of Laurens. 44, 45. In the spring of 1779, at- 

For the draughts from Massachusetts, tempts were made by Congress to ar- 

between 1780 and 1783, see Brad- range a commission for negotiating 

ford, ii., Sparks's Washington, viii., peace, and John Adams, of Massa- 

and Jour. Cont. Cong. chusetts, was chosen for that purpose 

1 Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vii. 124. by the votes of eleven states. Ad- 
Comp. also Day's Reflections upon ams's Works, ix. ; Sparks's Franklin, 
the Present State of England, 8, ix.; Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 286, 
Lond. 1783. 295 ; Bradford, ii. 156. 

2 France and Spain declared war 3 Providence Gazette for May 11, 
with England in 1779; difficulties 1782; Boston Gazette for May 20, 
with Holland and Russia occurred in 1782 ; Diplomacy of the U. S. 164 ; 
1780 ; and the " armed neutrality " Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vii. 136. The 
followed, which arrayed against Eng- vote stood 193 in the affirmative, to 
land the Baltic powers. Lord Ma- 194 in the negative. 

hon's Hist. Eng. vi. 255, 263 j vii. 


and, so nearly were parties divided, the ministry did not venture chap. 
upon open resistance — Lord North only pleading for a tern- ^^L, 
porary delay. The opposition, however, were too sanguine to 1782. 
yield ; the resolution was pressed ; and, in the end, it was car- 
ried, against the whole force of government, by two hundred 
and thirty-four against two hundred and fifteen. 1 The downfall 
of the old ministry speedily followed ; Lord North resigned ; Max. 20. 
and in less than a week the new ministry kissed hands — the 
Marquis of Eockingham being first lord of the treasury, Sir 
John Cavendish chancellor of the exchequer, and Charles 
James Fox secretary of state. Admiral Keppel, with the 
rank of viscount, was raised to be first lord of the admiralty, 
and the Duke of Richmond became master general of the 
ordnance. These five were of the " Eockingham section ; " 
and, that the followers of Chatham might be duly represented, 
Lord Shelburne was appointed second secretary of state — 
the third, or American, secretaryship being abolished ; Lord 
Camden became president of the council ; the Duke of Graf- 
ton privy seal; General Conway commander-in-chief; and 
Lord Ashburton chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. And, 
as if to "hold the balance" between these parties, Lord 
Thurlow, a high tory, retained the great seal. 2 

About the time of the fall of Lord North's ministry, and in Mar. 22. 
anticipation of that event, Dr. Franklin, who was at Paris, wrote 
to Lord Shelburne, the secretary of state, informing him of the 
appointment, on the part of the American government, of five 

1 Providence Gazette for May 11, Hamilton's Works, i. 277; LordMa- 
1782 ; Boston Gazette for May 20, hon's Hist. Eng. vii. 144. The death 
1782 ; Sparks's Washington, viii. 293, of the Marquis of Rockingham, which 
294, 299, 540-542 ; Debrett's Pari, occurred not long after, gave a shock 
Keg. vi. 310-341 ; Diplomacy of the to the new administration, and dis- 
U. S. 164 ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. ordered its whole system, and the 
vii. 137. prospects of peace for a time seemed 

2 Considerations on the Provision- to vanish. But a new ministry was 
al Treaty with America, ed. 1783, 13 ; soon organized, and the negotiations 
Sparks's Washington, viii. 288, 359 ; were continued. Sparks's Washing- 
Boston Gazette for June 24, 1782; ton, viii. 344, 359, 371; Diplomacy 
Sparks's Franklin, ix. 183, 200, 202 ; of the U. S. 164. 



chap, commissioners, to open and conclude a treaty of peace, and of 

^^^ their readiness to attend to that duty. Accordingly, Richard 
1782. Oswald, a London merchant, of respectable attainments, and a 
gentleman of the strictest candor and integrity, was commis- 
sioned, as agent On the part of the English government, to 
treat for that purpose. 1 A conference was held soon after his 
April, arrival ; and a paper was presented by Dr. Franklin, suggest- 
ing that, in order to effect a thorough reconciliation, and to 
prevent any future quarrel on the North American continent, 
England should not only acknowledge the independence of 
the thirteen United States, but cede to them also the prov- 

Apr. 19. ince of Canada. 2 With this paper Mr. Oswald returned to 
his employers ; but the proposition contained in it was unpal- 
atable to Lord Shelburne ; and the cabinet decided that he 

Apr. 27. should return with the abstract of a treaty on a different 
basis, admitting the independence of the thirteen United 
States, but leaving other matters to be restored as they stood 
at the peace of 1763. 3 At the same time, a second agent was 
sent by the government to treat with Yergennes on the part 
of France ; and Mr. Thomas Grenville, the friend of Fox, 

1 Sparks's Washington, viii. 371. 
" I dare say," adds Washington, " the 
king felt some severe pangs at the 
time he put his hand to the letters 
patent. It is not, however, less effi- 
cacious or pleasing on that account ; 
and breaking the ice is a great point 

2 Boston Gazette for Aug. 19, 
1782; Edin. Rev. for Jan. 1854; 
Franklin's Journal, in Sparks's Frank- 
lin, ix. 238 et seq. ; Lord Mahon's 
Hist. Eng. vii. 179. The proposition 
thus made was not new with Frank- 
lin, but had been suggested by him so 
early as October, 1778, in a letter to 
Mr. Hartley. Works, viii. 301. See 
also ibid. 253-255, 268-270, 278- 
287, relative to the terms of recon- 
ciliation with America, discussed in 
the spring of 1778, when William 
Pulteney, Esq., M. P., was sent to 

Paris as secret agent to consult with 
Dr. Franklin. These propositions 
were renewed in 1779. Hartley to 
Franklin, April 22, 1779, in Frank- 
lin's Works, viii. 330-337, and the 
reply of Franklin, May 6, in ibid. 345 
-347. See also Jebb's proposal for 
a federal union between America and 
England, in ibid. 508-513, under date 
of October 11, 1780. The subject of 
peace, indeed, was agitated and talked 
of for a long time before any thing 
definite was effected. Comp. Diplo- 
matic Corresp. of the Rev. viii. pas- 
sim ; Diplomacy of the U, S. chap, 

3 Journal, in Sparks's Franklin, 
ix. ; Lord Mahon's Hist. Eng. vii. 
180. In the spring of 1779, and in 
the fall of 1781, the legislature of 
Massachusetts addressed memorials 
to their representatives in Congress 



was selected for that purpose. 1 Thus two treaties were in chap. 
progress at the same time, both of which aimed at an adjust- ^^ 
ment of difficulties and the restoration of peace. 1782. 

The separate negotiations, as might have been anticipated, 
clashed with each other in several particulars ; and that with 
America was delayed for a time by the illness of Franklin and 
points of form in the commission of Oswald. The cession of 
Canada was utterly refused ; but as this was not, with Frank- 
lin, the sine qua non, it was quietly dropped ; a treaty was 
arranged upon different terms ; and the preliminary or provis- 
ional articles were signed, at Paris', by the four American Nov.30. 
commissioners, on one side, and Mr. Oswald, on the other. 2 
These articles were brought before Parliament in the winter, j^ 8 | 7# 
and the opposition against them was peculiarly bitter. But 
government had gone too far to fall back* with grace ; and 
the new administration labored so zealously and successfully 
that, early in the fall, three definitive treaties — with America, Sept. 3. 
France, and Spain — were signed ; the former at Paris, and 
the two others at Versailles. 3 

on the subject of the fisheries, in 
which the New England States were 
interested ; and these memorials were 
laid before Congress, and acted upon, 
and the subject referred to their en- 
voys in Europe. Sparks's Franklin, 
ix. 128-141 ; Bradford, ii. 214; Aus- 
tin's Life of Gerry, i. 287-293, 371. 

1 Sparks's Washington, viii. 540 ; 
Sparks's Franklin, ix. 270, 271 ; Bos- 
ton Gazette for Aug. 19, 1782; Di- 
plomacy of the U. S. 165 ; Lord Ma- 
hon's Hist. Eng. vii. 180. 

2 Boston Gazette for April 7 and 
14, 1783 ; Heath's Mems. 362 ; Di- 
plomacy of the U. S. 171; Lord Ma- 
hon's Hist. Eng. vii. 200. 

3 J. Adams to E. Gerry, Sept. 3, 
1783, in Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 
381 ; Sparks's Franklin, ix. 435 ; 
Diplomatic Corresp. x. ; Diplomacy 
of the U. S. 171-174; Lord Mahon'*s 
Hist. Eng. vii. 207, 208. "When 

the definitive treaty was laid before 
Congress," says Austin, Life of Gerry, 
i. 380, " it was, with singular proprie- 
ty, committed to those of its mem- 
bers who, in 1776, had signed the 
Declaration of Independence. Three 
only remained. Mr. Jefferson, the 
draughtsman of that Declaration, was 
chairman of that committee. Mr. 
Gerry was next named, and after him 
Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island. Mr. 
Read, of South Carolina, and Mr. 
Hawkins, of North Carolina, complet- 
ed the requisite number. It was the 
happy fortune of this committee to 
report to Congress that the objects of 
their sacrifices were at length accom- 
plished ; that the sovereignty, free- 
dom, and independence of the United 
States were recognized ; and that the 
painful struggle which had thus far 
attended their existence as a nation 
was now happily at an end." 


chap. Thus the war of the revolution was happily ended. The 
^^^ colonies of England were wrested from her grasp, and the 

1783. era of American Independence was established. Without 
doubt, there were some who regretted the prospect of the ces- 
sation of arms. War, with the mercenary, is a trade which 
he follows with fiendish delight ; and to flesh his sword in the 
bodies of the innocent, to delight " in bloody deaths and rav- 
ishments," — 

" Nor children's tears nor mothers' groans respecting," — 

to rove for plunder, and blast the earth with the mildew 
of famine, are to him more sweet than to behold " bruised 
arms hung up for monuments, stern alarums changed to merry 
meetings," and every man and every woman, freed from the 
fury and curse of the destroyer, singing with ecstasy the gay 
notes of peace. It should be remembered, however, that if 
war, to the Christian, is a "rank imposthume," and if the 
natural instinct of the benevolent heart revolts from its hor- 
rors, there are cases in which it is justifiable ; and the aspira- 
tions for a higher freedom than was attainable under the cir- 
cumstances in which they were placed, and the consciousness 
that this could be effected only by resisting the aggressions of 
England, will probably be deemed a sufficient justification for 
the course of the colonists. 

It was " glad tidings " to America that peace was declared. 
Every countenance was radiant with smiles ; and the procla- 
mation, when read in the different cities, was hailed by the 
people with tumultuous cheers. Bells were rung ; cannon 
were fired ; bonfires blazed ; and, in the evening, the houses 

1 The tented camps a soldier charm, Those sounds of war which mothers 
Trumpets and fifes his bosom warm ; fear. 
Their mingled sounds with joy he Francis's Horace, Ode L 

hears — 


were brilliantly illuminated. It seemed as if all were in- chap. 
spired with new life ; and, in the hour of triumph, how ^^*~ 
proudly the soldiery, who had fought for their country, re- 1783. 
counted the perilous scenes they had witnessed, and, looking 
to Heaven with grateful emotions, poured out their offerings 
of gratitude to God ! To view such a scene with indifference 
is impossible ; and if the story of the revolution, notwithstand- 
ing its drawbacks, becomes to us ever a " thrice told tale," or 
ceases to arouse us to emulate the virtues and admire the 
heroism of those who achieved the independence of our coun- 
try, then, may we be assured, the day of our downfall is rap- 
idly approaching, and we are becoming unworthy of the con- 
tinued enjoyment of the blessings of liberty, now so widely 
diffused throughout our land. 



The renunciation of allegiance to the crown of Great 
Britain rendered it necessary for all the American colonies to 
1776. establish, as soon as practicable, independent governments, for 
the protection of the people and the security of their inter- 
ests. Hence, in the midst of the war of the revolution, the 
citizens of Massachusetts were called upon to deliberate upon 
their civil affairs. As the several states were considered sov- 
ereign, as well as independent, and as the supreme authority 
resided in the legislature in each state, and each claimed the 
right to exercise sovereign power within its own jurisdiction, 
— yielding due respect to the advice and recommendations 
of the General Congress, — it became an*important question 
what system of government should be adopted, and how that 
system should be framed and adjusted. In Massachusetts, 
there was no necessity for a hasty decision of this question. 
The charter, it is true, was no longer in force ; nor was there 
any obligation to abide by its requirements. But few altera- 
tions had been made in consequence of the renunciation of 
allegiance to the crown, and the forms of the old government 
were substantially preserved. The office of governor was 
vacant ; but the duties of that office were performed by the 
Executive Council, and no great difficulties had been hitherto 
experienced from the want of a chief magistrate. Defects 
were not felt as serious evils, while there were greater evils 

demanding attention. But these defects might increase ; and 



it was proper that they should be remedied before they were chap. 
incurable. ^viw 

In consonance with these views, at a quite early date a 1776. 
proposition was made in the General Court that a commit- 
tee should be appointed to prepare a form of government, 
and such committee was appointed ; but the business was not 
proceeded in, as the opinion was generally expressed that 
the subject should originate with the people, who were the 
proper source of the organic law. 1 The House therefore con- 
tented themselves with recommending to their constituents 
to choose their deputies to the next General Court with Sep. 17 
power to adopt a form of government for the state ; and, to 
give greater effect to this recommendation, it was renewed 1777. 

May 5. 

more formally in the following spring. 2 In this interval, a 
convention was held in the county of Worcester of the com- Feb. 
mittees of safety from a majority of the towns, who voted 
that it would be improper for the existing General Court to 
form a constitution, but that a convention of delegates from 
all the towns in the state should be called for that purpose. 3 

How far the decision of this convention influenced the 
action of the people does not appear ; but a majority of the 
towns in the state, it would seem, chose their representatives 
for the next annual session of the General Court with a spe- 

1 Jour. H. of R. for June 4 and 6, 3 Bradford, ii. 118; Lincoln's Hist, 
and Sept. 4, 1776; J. Adams's Cor- Worcester, 118. The town of Con- 
resp, in Works, ix. 429, 442 ; Brad- cord, in October, 1776, on the ques- 
ford, ii. 117. The committee appoint- tion of giving their consent that the 
ed consisted of Brigadier Palmer, Co- House of Representatives, with the 
lonel Pickering, Captain Stone, Major Council, should enact a constitution 
Hawley, Hon. James Warren, Mr. or form of government for this state, 
Nye, Captain Stearns, Mr. Simp- voted in the negative, and assigned as 
son, Mr. Maynard, Mr. Mayhew, their reasons that the supreme legis- 
Colonel Wait, and Mr. Root. lature, in then' corporate capacity, 

2 Jour. H. of R. for Sept. 17, 1776, were by no means the proper body to 
and May o, 1777 ; R. T. Paine to E. form and establish such a constitu- 
Gerry, April 12, 1777, in Austin's Life tion, and that a convention, or con- 
of Gerry, i. 223 ; A Constitution and gress, specially chosen, should be in- 
Form of Government, &c, 3-5 ; Brad- trusted with the business. Shattuck's 
ford, ii. 117 ; Jackson's Hist. Newton, Concord, 127, 128. 



chap, cial view, or, at least, with an implied consent, to the forma- 
^3^ ti° n of a constitution by that body. The citizens of Boston, 
1777. and of a number of other towns, as well as the committees of 
safety in the county of Worcester, were opposed to this pro- 
ceeding, and favored the calling of a convention of delegates. 1 
And, without doubt, this was the proper and the best course 
to have taken. It has been found, in nearly all communities 
where the experiment has been tried, that a constitution 
framed by a legislative assembly is open to more objections 
than a constitution framed by a convention of delegates. 
Whether it is that the members of a legislative body are too 
apt to be influenced by political considerations, and to lean 
upon precedents wherever they can be found, or whether it is 
that a convention of delegates, chosen directly by the people 
for the sole purpose of framing a constitution, are more likely 
to consult the general good, and to act independently of any 
official ties, certain it is that, in a majority of the states, 2 the 
settlement of the frame of government has been intrusted to 
such conventions in preference to legislative assemblies ; and 
the result has been a better and more satisfactory system than 
could have been otherwise obtained — one in which the peo- 

1 Bradford, ii. 140. Comp. Ab- second constitution was established 
bott's Andover, 61. In the preamble by the state legislature. In New 
to the constitution offered in 1778, it Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, 
is said that the people, in accordance New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, 
with the resolve of May 5, 1777, did Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, 
appoint, authorize, and instruct their and Georgia conventions were held 
representatives, in one body with the as in Massachusetts. See The Con- 
Council, to form such a constitution stitutions of the several independent 
of government as they should judge States of America, published by or- 
best calculated to promote the happi- der of Congress, Dec. 29, 1780, and 
ness of the state, and, when complet- reprinted at London in 1782. At a 
ed, to cause the same to be published later date, however. South Carolina 
for their inspection and consideration, adopted a new constitution, which 
See this instrument in the pamphlet was the work of a convention special- 
published in 1778, and in Bradford, ly called for that purpose; and sev- 
ii. App. 350. eral of the other states, in a similar 

2 Rhode Island and South Carolina manner, revised their old constitutions 
are believed to be the only exceptions, or framed new ones. Comp. Pitkin's 
In the former state, the old charter U. S. ii. chap. xix. ; Hildreth's U. S. 
was in force ; and in the latter, the 2d series, chap. iii. 



pie have more readily acquiesced, because better adapted to chap. 

their circumstances and wants. 1 ^v^. 

At the usual time the General Court was convened ; and, a 1777. 

May 28. 

few weeks after the opening of its sessions, a committee was 
appointed, consisting of four members of the Council 2 and 
eight members of the House, 3 for the purpose of preparing a 
constitution. Of the proceedings of this committee but little 
is known, as their records have not been published ; but the 
result of their deliberations was a draught of a constitution 
which was debated at length, approved by the convention 
presented to the legislature, and submitted to the people, by Mar. 4 
whom it was rejected. 4 

The objections to this instrument were, that it contained no 
declaration of rights, which was an essential defect ; that the 
principle of representation was unequal, inasmuch as even the 
smallest towns were allowed to have one representative, and 
others, unless containing three hundred polls, were confined 
to that number • and that the powers and duties of the legis- 
lators and rulers were not clearly and accurately defined. 5 


Feb. 28. 

1 The views of the people on this 
point may be gathered from the in- 
structions given by the town of Med- 
ford to their representative in May, 
1779 : " That said representative use 
his best endeavors and influence that, 
if the General Court are empowered 
by the majority of freeholders of said 
state to call a convention to form said 
constitution of government, said con- 
vention may consist of no person or 
persons belonging to said General 
Court." Brooks's Medford, 154. 

2 Jeremiah Powell, Thomas dish- 
ing, Daniel Davis, and John Taylor. 
The subject was discussed previously 
by both Houses, and a conference was 
held, June 17, "on the business of 
forming a new constitution of govern- 
ment." Jour. H. of R. for 1777, 28. 

3 James Warren, Robert Treat 
Paine, Azor Orne, Jeduthun Bliss, 
James Prescott, John Pickering, Geo. 
Partridge, and Joseph Simpson. 

4 Comp. Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 
266. For the draught referred to, 
see the pamphlet, printed by J. Gill, 
in 1778, and comp. Bradford, ii. App. 
349-362. The vote stood, 10,000 
against the constitution, to 2000 in its 
favor ; and 120 towns made no re- 
turns. The citizens of Boston voted 
unanimously against the constitution, 
and were of opinion that a matter of 
so much importance should not be 
hastily decided, but be postponed to 
a period of more tranquillity. The 
Result of the Ipswich Convention, 
held, by adjournment, at Ipswich, 
April 29, 1778, Peter Coffin, Esq., in 
the chair, was published, in pamphlet 
form, at Newburyport; and the ob- 
jections to the constitution were stat- 
ed in this document in eighteen arti- 

5 Bradford, ii. 158, 159; Hobart's 
Abington, 136. 






Feb. 20. 

Jun. 17. 
Sept. 1. 

Sept. 3. 

Sept. 7. 
Oct. 28. 
Nov. 11. 

Besides, the opinion was still current that a convention was 
the proper body to decide upon a constitution for the state, 
and that no other body could successfully discharge that duty. 
A majority of the people, therefore, favored the calling of 
such a convention ; and, at the annual election in the follow- 
ing year, by the advice of the General Court previously given, 
the returns from the towns were so conclusive that precepts 
were issued for the choice of delegates, to meet at Cambridge 
in the ensuing September. 1 

These delegates met at the appointed time, and organized 
by the choice of James Bowdoin as president, and Samuel 
Barrett as secretary. 2 A committee of twenty-six was speed- 
ily chosen to draught a constitution ; 3 but, as the report of 
this committee could not be immediately made, the convention, 
after a session of about a week, was adjourned to meet again 
the last of October ; and, two weeks from that time, it was 

1 Jour. Convention, 5 ; Jour. H. of 
R. for Feb. 9, IB, 17, 1779; Brad- 
ford, ii. 177 ; Cushing's Newburyport; 
Coffin's Newbury, 255 ; S. Lincoln's 
Hist Hingham, 107. Nearly one 
third of the towns neglected to make 
returns ; but of those which were 
heard from, the larger portion were 
in favor of calling a convention. 

2 Jour, of the Convention, 7 ; Title 
Page of the Const, published by or- 
der, and ibid. 51, 53 ; Bradford, ii. 

3 This committee consisted of the 
Hon. James Bowdoin, Hon. John Ad- 
ams, and John Lowell, Esq., from 
Suffolk; Theophilus Parsons, Esq., 
Jonathan Jackson, and Samuel Phil- 
lips, Jun., from Essex ; Hon. James 
Sullivan, Nathaniel Gorham, Esq., and 
Hon. Eleazar Brooks, from Middle- 
sex ; Hon. Noah Goodman, Major 
Hezekiah Smith, and Mr. John Bil- 
lings, from Hampshire ; John Cotton, 
Esq., and Kev. Gad Hitchcock, from 
Plymouth ; Enoch Hallett, Esq., from 
Barnstable; Hon. R. T. Paine and 
Rev. Samuel West, from Bristol; 

Hon. Benjamin Chadbourn and Hon. 
David Sewall, from York ; Hon. Jed- 
ediah Foster, Joseph Dorr, Esq., and 
Israel Nichols, Esq., from Worcester ; 
Hon. Samuell Small, from Cumber- 
land; and James Harris, Esq., and 
Captain William Walker, from Berk- 
shire. Jour, of the Convention, 26-29. 
" Well might it be said," observes 
Mr. Winthrop, " that to this conven- 
tion were returned, from all parts of 
the commonwealth, as great a num- 
ber of men of learning, talents, and 
patriotism as had ever been assem- 
bled here at any earlier period." Here 
were " Samuel Adams and John Ad- 
ams, Hancock, the elder John Lowell, 
Theophilus Parsons, the elder John 
Pickering, George Cabot, Nathaniel 
Gorham, James Sullivan, the elder 
Levi Lincoln, Robert Treat Paine, 
Jonathan Jackson, Henry Higginson, 
Nathaniel Tracy, Samuel Osgood, 
William Cushing, and Caleb Strong ; " 
and Maine was " represented, among 
others, by David Sewall and Benja 
min Chadbourne." Winthrop's Ad- 
dresses and Speeches, 110. 


adjourned to the following January. 1 In the mean time, the chap. 
subject was discussed in the papers and by different public ^^ 
bodies, to prepare the people for definite action ; and sugges- 1779. 
tions of the highest importance were made touching the form 
of government which it would be wisest to adopt. 2 

At the reassembling of the convention, the draught, which 1780. 
had been revised, was presented, and, after considerable dis- 
cussion, was adopted ; and eighteen hundred copies were Mar. 2. 
ordered to be printed, and distributed in the towns and plan- 
tations in the state. 3 The votes of the people, for or against 
this constitution, were directed to be returned on the first 
"Wednesday in June ; and at that date it appeared that more 
than two thirds of the votes were in its favor, and the conven- 
tion was dissolved. 4 The vote of Boston was in the affirma- Jun. 16. 
tive ; but alterations were proposed, and the delegates from May 12, 
the town were instructed to present them. These alterations 
related to the third article of the bill of rights, which provides 
for religious instruction ; to the preservation of liberty of 
speech and the freedom of the press ; to the provision respect- 
ing the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus ; and to em- 
powering the governor, without leave of the legislature, to 
order the militia to an adjoining state in case of danger. 5 On 

1 Jour. Convention, 34, 49 ; Brad- pages. The committee on this ad- 
ford, ii. 177. Samuel Adams, John dress consisted of Hon. James Sulli- 
Pickering, Caleb Strong, and William van, Hon. Samuel Adams, John Low- 
Cushing had been previously appoint- ell, Esq., Rev. Mr. West, and Mr. 
ed to draught a constitution and dec- Gray. Jour. Convention, 130. This 
laration of rights. Jour. Convention, was approved Feb. 22, and Colonel 
30. Thompson and Mr. Parsons were 

2 Boston Gazette for 1779 and added. 

1780, passim. 4 Boston Gazette for June 19, 1780. 

3 A Constitution, &c, pub. by Benj. On the 2d of March, the convention 
Edes and Sons, 1780, 52 ; Jour. Con- adjourned to the 7th of June, then to 
vention, 192-216, 222-249; Boston receive the returns from the towns; 
Gazette for Jan. 3 land Apr. 17, 1780; and, after reassembling on that day, 
Sparks's Corresp. of the Rev. ii. 430. it continued in session until the 16th, 
The Address, in Journal, &c, 216- when it was dissolved. Jour. Conven- 
222, sent out with the constitution by tion, 168, 170, 185. 

the convention, was printed by White 5 Boston Gazette for May 12 and 

and Adams, in a pamphlet of eighteen 22, 1780; Bradford, ii. 186. 
VOL. III. 12 


chap, the first of these points, though they expressed tnemselves 
^^ satisfied of the importance of religious teachers to the welfare 
1780. of society and the morals of the people, they wished for a 
perfect toleration, so far as it could be secured, and for no 
degree of compulsion in religious sentiments or worship. 
Liberty of conscience, they apprehended, would be infringed 
by any other course ; and, though they did not object to the 
idea that all should be taxed for the support of religion, they 
suggested that the amount assessed upon those not connected 
with any organized society should be appropriated to the poor 
or to some other purpose of public utility. 1 With regard to 
the writ of Habeas Corpus, they wished that its privileges 
should be more accurately defined and more liberally granted, 
so that citizens should not be subject to confinement on mere 
suspicion. 2 And they were in favor of authorizing the gov- 
ernor, without leave of the legislature, to order the militia to 
an adjoining state for the suppression of rebellions, and for 
such other purposes as might be required. 3 

Nor was it only in Boston that objections were made to the 
provisions of the new constitution. Throughout the state, the 
subject was discussed ; and the third article, in particular, of 
the bill of rights called forth a number of elaborate essays, 
which were published in the papers of the day. 4 Without 
doubt, it was intended, by the framers of this article, that lib- 
erty of conscience should be enjoyed by every citizen ; nor 
was it supposed that any really religious persons would se- 
riously object to the assessment of a tax for the support of 
public worship, since each one had the privilege of joining 

1 Bradford, ii. 186. Comp. Frank- 4 Boston Gazette for June 12, July 
lin's Works, viii. 505, 506, and the 3, 10, 24, 31, Aug. 14, 21, Oct. 23, 
pamphlet entitled Political Sketches, and Dec. 18, 1780. Comp. W. Lin- 
inscribed to his Excellency John Ad- coin's Hist. Worcester, 123, and S. 
ams, &c, Lond. 1787, 86 et seq. Lincoln's Hist, of Hingham, 108, 

2 Bradford, ii. 186. 109. 

3 Bradford, ii. 186; Brooks's Med- 
ford, 155. 


what society and supporting what teacher he pleased. It was chap. 
expressly provided, also, that no one should be molested on ^J^, 
account of his religious opinions, and that no one denomina- 1780. 
tion should have any exclusive or peculiar privileges. Yet it 
was well known that there were sects in existence inferior in 
numbers, as well as in wealth, to that which had hitherto been 
principally supported ; and the members of these sects were 
opposed to a course which seemed, even by implication, to 
discourage their existence, or to limit their resources. The 
Baptists, in particular, who had become quite numerous, were 
inclined to complain, inasmuch as individuals who wished to 
ally with them, and who were connected with other societies, 
could not do so without applying for a special license — an 
arrangement which was conceived to be peculiarly oppressive, 
as well as inconsistent with their natural rights. 1 But the 
article was retained, and continued to be a part of the consti- 
tution until 1834, when it was abolished, and the "voluntary 
system," as it is commonly called, was adopted, which left 
each citizen at liberty to pay or not for the support of public 
worship, though every society, corporate or unincorporate, was 
authorized to tax its members, or the pewholders in its meeting 
house, for the support of public worship, by a majority vote 
of the members present at a meeting duly warned. 2 Whether 
this change has, on the whole, been a benefit or an injury to 
the cause of religion, is not clearly settled ; and a difference 
of opinion now, as in former times, prevails as to the expe- 
diency of sanctioning the idea that religion, as a matter of 
public utility, like the 'education of the young, should be sup- 
ported by a general assessment on the people. Directly or 
indirectly, it admits of no doubt that the benefits of religion 

1 Boston Gazette for Mar. 13, 1780 ; senators and two thirds of the House 
Bradford, ii. 187. for that year and the next, submitted 

2 Senate Doc. No. 3, for 1834 ; to the people, approved by them, and 
Acts and Resolves of Mass. for 1834. ratified and confirmed by "the General 
This amendment was proposed in Court in 1834. 

1832, agreed to by a majority of the 


chap, are enjoyed by all, in the security of law, the protection of 
^^ property, and the prevention of crime ; and if such benefits 
1780. are common, it is asked, why should not all be required, in 
some way, to contribute to the support of religion, as well as 
to the support of schools or of government? This is not the 
place, however, to discuss this subject, or to express an opinion 
which might be dissented from by more than would approve 
it. The decision of the question rests with the people. 1 

As the constitution was adopted by the popular vote, and 
was henceforth to be the law of the state, notice of the same 
was officially given by the convention to the General Court, 
Oct. 25. and the last Wednesday of October was assigned as the day 
for the organization of the government. 2 The election of 
Sept. 4. governor, lieutenant governor, and senators took place in Sep- 
Oct. 9. tember ; and the representatives were chosen in October, ten 
days, at least, previously to the last Wednesday in the month. 3 
For the office of chief magistrate John Hancock was chosen 
— a gentleman who deserved well of the people for his sacri- 
fices on their behalf, and who had already respectably filled a 
number of responsible stations. 4 No person had a majority 
of the votes for lieutenant governor, and the General Court 
elected James Bowdoin to the office ; but he declined it. 

1 For the debates on the rejection the convention and among the peo- 
of the third article of the bill of rights, pie, in the whole course of this great 
see the newspapers of the day. work, posterity will be happy and 

2 Boston Gazette for June 19, prosperous. The first citizen will be 
1780 ; Jour. Convention, 186 ; Brad- one of two whom we know. Which 
ford, ii. 188. ever it may be, I wish him support 

3 Jour. Convention, 186; Bradford, and success. It is no light trus> 
ii. 188 ; Jackson's Hist. Newton, 195; However ambitious any may be of i 
S. Lincoln's Hist. Hingham, 110. The whoever obtains this distinction, if hi 
election in some of the towns took does his duty, will find it a heavy bu 
place in August. See Shattuck's Con- den. There is nothing which I dread 
cord, 129. so much as a division of the republic 

4 " I want to hear of the elec- into two great parties, each arranged 
tions," wrote John Adams to Jona- under its leader, and concerting meas- 
than Jackson, Oct. 2, 1780, Corresp. ures in opposition to each other. This, 
in Works, ix. 511. " If these are in my humble apprehension, is to be 
made with as much gravity, wisdom, dreaded as the greatest political evil 
and integrity as were discovered in under our constitution." 



James Warren was then chosen ; but he also declined. After- chap. 
wards Thomas Cushing was chosen, and he saw fit to accept . ^J^, 
the post. 1 1780. 

It is evident that the new constitution was not adopted 
without opposition ; nor were there wanting individuals of 
considerable intelligence who doubted the permanence of the 
government to be established under it. Yet the statesmen 
of Massachusetts, whose knowledge of political science was 
the result of a long and painful experience, were not de- 
sirous, in the progress of the institutions which they were 
called upon to frame, to make startling innovations in fa- 
miliar forms ; nor was it necessary, or even expedient, that 
they should reject as worthless views which had been proved 
to be sound, and measures which were sanctioned by their 
obvious utility. So far, indeed, as changes were necessary for 
the interests of the community, they were unhesitatingly made, 
and in most cases with great unanimity. Beyond this, how- 
ever, the spirit of innovation was rigidly restrained. They 
had no intention of embarking in schemes whose chief recom- 
mendation was their novelty, and which might prove worse 
than those which had been tried. Hence deference was paid 
to the forms of the past ; and the dignity, and in some degree 
the ceremonial, of the royal government may be distinctly 
traced in the architecture of the new constitution. The titles 
given to the two first executive magistrates, and to councillors 
and senators, in the eyes of some savored of an inclination to 
imitate the governments of the old world. But the objections 
to these titles, though they have since been renewed, 2 were not 
seriously urged ; nor, indeed, did they affect any principle of 
vital importance. 3 

1 Boston Gazette for Oct. 30, 1780 ; lieutenant governor. Winthrop's Ad- 

Sparks's Corresp. of the llev. iii. 148 ; dresses and Speeches, 110. 

Bradford, ii. 198. Mr. Bowdoinwas 2 See the Proceedings of the Con- 

at the same time elected a senator for vention to revise the Constitution, 

the county of Suffolk ; but he saw fit held in 1853, i. 986. 

to decline this office, as well as that of 3 Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 355, 356. 


chap. The position of Governor Hancock was somewhat peculiar. 

^_J^ For several months there had been a misunderstanding be- 
1780. tween him and the delegates from Massachusetts to the Gen- 
eral Congress, originating, among other things, in the suspicion 
that his conduct, as the favorite of the people, was too much 
guided by his love of popularity. They had, therefore, thrown 
the weight of their influence in favor of Mr. Bowdoin, 
a member of that party to some of whom Mr. Hancock had 
given the sobriquet of " the Essex junto ; " and the success of 
Mr. Hancock was not particularly gratifying to them, or in 
unison with their wishes. 1 The opposition, however, was not 
of such virulence as to embarrass the action of the govern- 
ment ; and, though party feeling ran high at the time, and 
continued for many years to influence the conduct of even 
well-meaning patriots, no serious evils resulted, though occa- 
sionally there were manifestations of individual resentment 
and of intemperate zeal. 

In the midst of this excitement of political concerns, the 
interests of science were not overlooked ; and the incorpora- 

May 4. tion of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, consisting of about 
fifty members, distinguished for their literary researches and 
attainments, is evidence of attention to intellectual improve- 
ment. Of this society, James Bowdoin, its principal patron, 
was the first president ; throughout his life he was its pride 
and its ornament ; and at his death, he bequeathed to it a 
hundred pounds and his valuable library of twelve hundred 
volumes. Joseph Willard, of Cambridge, the president of 
Harvard College, was chosen vice president and correspond- 
ing secretary of the society. 9 

1 Austin's Life of Gerry, i. 353. Bowdoin's Disc, before Am. Acad. 

See also S. Adams's Letter to Gerry, 1780 ; Boston Gazette for May 22, 

of Nov. 27, 1780, in ibid. 362. On 1780 ; Bradford, ii. 191 ; Austin's 

the personal appearance of Hancock Life of Gerry, i. 363 ; Quincy's Hist, 

in 1782, see Loring's Hundred Ora- H. Coll. An academy was estab- 

tors, 105. lished at Andover in 1778, which 

Mems. Am. Acad. i. Pref. p. 1 ; was incorporated in 1780, for the in- 



The " dark day," which occurred on Friday, the nineteenth chap. 
of May, was the occasion of much alarm, and was the cause ^J!^ 
of much speculation among the common people and the 1780. 

May 19. 

learned. The morning was cloudy, and, in some places, a 
little rain fell. By ten o'clock the whole heavens were over- 
cast ; and by noon, artificial lights became necessary in the 
dwellings, and birds and beasts repaired to their places of 
nightly repose. Before night, however, it gradually grew 
lighter. The darkness, it is said, did not extend beyond Con- 
necticut, nor far at sea. It was generally attributed to a 
thick smoke, which had been accumulating for several days, 
occasioned by the burning of large tracts of wood land in the 
northern part of New Hampshire, where the people were 
making new settlements ; and, joined to the situation of na- 
tional affairs, which was peculiarly discouraging, an unusual 
gloom settled upon the community. 1 

struction of youth in the higher 
branches of literature. This was 
known as the Phillips Academy, and 
afterwards as the Theological Semi- 
nary. Abbott's Andover, 114-123; 
Bradford, ii. 191. 

1 Boston Gazette for May 22 and 
29, 1780 ; Mems. Am. Acad. i. ; 1 M. 
H. Colli. 95-98; Bradford, ii. 192; 
Lewis's Lynn, 217 ; Coffin's Newbury, 
257, from Bp. Edward Bass's MSS. ; 
Abbott's Andover, 189, 190, from MS. 
of Rev. J. French. Some of the ac- 
counts say that the darkness extended 
all over New England, and westward 
to Albany, and was observed south- 
ward aHalong the sea coast ; but oth- 
ers say that it did not extend to North 
River. Dr. Tenney attributes the 
darkness to an uncommonly thick sec- 
ond stratum of clouds, probably occa- 
sioned by two strong currents of wind, 
from the southward and westward, 
condensing the vapors, and drawing 
them in a north-easterly direction. 
The darkness, he says, was most gross 
in the county of Essex, the lower part 
of the State of New Hampshire, and 

the old Province of Maine. Li Rhode 
Island and Connecticut, it was not so 
great, and still less in New York. In 
New Jersey, the second stratum was 
observed, but not of any great thick- 
ness, nor was the darkness very un- 
common. In the lower parts of Penn- 
sylvania, no extraordinary appearance 
was noticed. Throughout this whole 
extent, the lower stratum had an un- 
common brassy hue, while the earth 
and trees were adorned with so en- 
chanting a verdure as could not escape 
notice, even amidst the unusual gloom 
that surrounded the spectator. " To 
these two strata of clouds," he adds, 
" we may, without hesitation, impute 
the extraordinary darkness of the 
day." " The darkness of the follow- 
ing evening," he further remarks, 
" was probably as gross as ever has 
been observed since the almighty fiat 
first gave birth to light. It wanted 
only palpability to render it as ex- 
traordinary as that which overspread 
the land of Egypt in the days of Mo- 
ses. ... I could not help con- 
ceiving, at the time, that if every lu- 


chap. The sessions of the General Court, commenced in October, 
^^ were continued until December, when an adjournment was 
1780. made until the following January, after the appointment of a 
Dec. ' special committee " to revise the laws in use in the common- 
wealth, and to select, abridge, alter, and digest them, so as 
they should be accommodated to the present government." 
The members of this committee consisted of the judges of the 
Superior Court, the attorney general, and James Bowdoin and 
James Pickering, gentlemen distinguished for their legal at- 
tainments ; and, in addition to the duty of revising the laws, 
they were requested to prepare bills for the due observance 
of the Sabbath, and for the prevention of the vices of drunk- 
enness and profanity. 1 By the terms of the constitution, the 
Supreme Judicial Court was to be the highest tribunal in the 
1782. state ; and, as early as was practicable, a court with this title 
was established by law. The judges of the Superior Court 
of Judicature had previously exercised the functions assigned 
to this court ; and that had for some time been the highest 
judicial court in the state. 2 

The establishment of a national bank, known as the " Bank 

of North America/ 7 — a project in which Hamilton was deeply 

Ma ' 26. interested, 3 — was authorized by the General Congress about 

this time, agreeably to a plan proposed by Robert Morris, the 

minous body in the universe had been 2 Bradford, ii. 217. The judges of 
shrouded in impenetrable shades, or this court were William Cushing, 
struck out of existence, the darkness Nathaniel P. Sargeant, James SulK- 
could not have been more complete, van, and David Sewall. Robert Treat 
A sheet of white paper, held within a Paine was attorney general. In 1790, 
few inches of the eyes, was equally in- William Cushing was appointed a 
visible with the blackest velvet." judge °f the Supreme Court of the 
1 Bradford, ii. 202, and note ; Win- United States, and was succeeded by 
throp's Life and Services of James Judge Sargeant, at whose death, in 
Bowdoin, in Addresses and Speeches, 1792, Francis Dana was appointed 
111. " I have seen in his private pa- chief justice. The other justices of 
pers [those of Mr. Bowdoin] ample the Supreme Judicial Court, at that 
evidence of the labor which he be- date, were R. T. Paine, Increase Sum- 
stowed on the duties of this distin- ner, Nathan Cushing, and Thomas 
guished and most responsible posi- Dawes, 
lion." 3 Hamilton's Works, i. 236-253. 


superintendent of finance ; and this bank went into opera- chap. 
tion in Philadelphia, when the legislature of Massachusetts v * 
passed a law giving currency to its bills within the state, 1782. 
instructing the treasurer and other officers to receive them for 
payment of the public debts, and subjecting to severe punish- 
ment those who should counterfeit them. This bank, however, 
continued in operation but four years, when its charter was *785. 
repealed ; but, two years after, it was reincorporated for four- 1787. 
teen years ; and, by successive legislative acts of the State of 
Pennsylvania, it has been continued until the present time. 
The old United States Bank, incorporated in 1791, 1 continued 1791. 
in existence until 1811, when its charter expired ; but, five 
years after, a new bank was incorporated, which wound up its 1816. 
affairs in 1836, under the presidency of General Jackson. 2 
The first bank in Massachusetts, under the state constitution, 

was established in 1784, and was known as the " Massachu- 1784. 

Feb. 7 
setts Bank/ 7 with a capital not exceeding five hundred thou- 
sand pounds. Its charter had no limitations as to its contin- 
uance ; and for several years it was the only incorporated 
banking company in the state, yielding to its stockholders 
very great profits. Since then more than two hundred banks 
have been incorporated in Massachusetts ; but the first char- 
tered bank still survives. 3 The " Massachusetts Mint " was 

1 The delegates from Massachusetts and its connection with the national 
voted against the incorporation of this treasury ceased. It was located in 
bank. Jour, of Cong, j Felt on the Pennsylvania, and had obtained a 
Currency, 193. charter from that state. Pitkin's Sta- 

2 Pelatiah Webster's Essays on tistics of the U. S. 416; Hildreth's 
Banking, Philad. 1790 ; Carey's De- U. S. 2d series, i. 260 et seq. 

bates, &c, of the Assembly of Penn- 3 The Path to Riches, &c, by a Cit- 
sylvania, 1786 ; Gouge's Hist, of izen of Massachusetts, Boston, 1792, 
Banking, 12-14, ed. 1835; Felt on 47 et seq.; Gouge's Hist, of Bank- 
the Currency, 193, 197 ; Pitkin's Sta- ing; Felt on the Currency, 199; 
tistics of the U. S. 415, 416] et seq., Bradford, ii. 216. The General Court, 
and Hist. U. S. ii. 348, 349 ; Bradford, in their session of the winter of 1792, 
ii. 216, and Hist. Fed. Gov. 36, 37. became alarmed at the operation of 
It should be observed that the Bank this bank, and sent a committee, who 
of North America, on receiving its inquired, but never explicitly report- 
second charter, became a state insti- ed upon its debts and credits. " It 
tution, on the retirement of Morris, seemed to be understood in the House 


chap, established in 1786 ; but only seventy thousand dollars, in 
^Z^~ cent an( ^ na ^ cent pieces, were coined ; and, after the adop- 
1786. tion of the federal constitution, the mint was discontinued. It 
1788. had been proposed by the legislature to have gold and silver 
oy " coined ; but Congress advised against the measure, on the 
ground that coining money was properly the prerogative of the 
* national government, and that a uniform currency was neces- 
sary for the convenience of the people in all parts of the 
country. 1 

The election of Mr. Hancock as governor of the state was 
carried for several years without much opposition ; and he 
filled the office to which he was chosen to the acceptance of 
the public. The character of this gentleman has been vari- 
ously estimated, and differently by the same per,sons at differ- 
ent times. That he was a man of wealth, fond of display, and 
withal somewhat vain, as well as ambitious, are facts which 
few will dispute. But when it is insinuated that his patri- 
otism was selfish, and that his devotion to the interests of 
his country was insincere, it is only necessary to point to his 
correspondence, both public and private, and to his conduct in 

of Representatives that it was a mat- with the word " Massachusetts ; " and 
ter which ought not to be spoken up- at the bottom were the figures " 1787," 
on ; and a bill was passed limiting the the date of emission. On the obverse 
issues of their credits to double their side was an Indian, grasping with his 
capital." Path to Riches, 50. right hand a bow, one end of Avhich 
1 Bradford, ii. 328; Felt on the rested on the ground, and with his 
Currency, 205-207. Joshua Witherel left an arrow, with the barb pointing 
was empowered by the General Court to the earth. Near his forehead is a 
to have the needed buildings erected single star, and on the edge is circum- 
for the mint in Massachusetts, and scribed the word " Commonwealth." 
suitable machinery provided ; and A few of these coins are still in exist- 
from the works erected on the Neck ence, but they are not very common, 
and at Dedham cents were issued, in For a description of the early United 
1787, which bore on one face a rep- States coins, see Felt on the Curren- 
resentation of an eagle grasping in the cy, 205, 206, note. An " act for in- 
right talon a bundle of seven arrows troducing the dollar and its parts as 
and in the left an olive branch — the the money of account in this com- 
emblems respectively of defence and monwealth " w r as passed February 25, 
peace. On the breast of the eagle 1795 ; and the United States, about 
was a shield, in the centre o£ which the same time, adopted a similar law. 
the word " cent " was inscribed ; the Mass. Laws for 1794-5, chap. xli. ; 
outer edge of the piece was encircled Hildreth's U. S. 



every emergency to disprove the charge ; and when the arts chap. 
of the demagogue and of the adventurer are ascribed to him, v * 
it is only necessary to say that, judged by the same rule, a 178O 
like charge may with equal, if not greater, force be brought 1734. 
against his accusers. -Whoever, indeed, expects to find in 
political life an entire exemption from the frailties of human- 
ity, may with perfect propriety engage in the search for the 
philosopher's stone, and with a like prospect of success. All 
have their failings ; and faultless characters are exceedingly 
rare. A man must be judged by his aims and his deeds, 
rather than by his failures or his idiosyncrasies. On this 
ground, few, it is believed, will hesitate to concede to Gov- 
ernor Hancock the praise of meaning and doing well, of amply 
atoning for his errors when known, and of meriting richly the 
approval of posterity by his manifold sacrifices and his gener- 
ous devotion to the interests of his country. 1 

1 Comp. Quincv's Hist. H. Coll. ; 
Bradford, ii. 234, 331 ; iii. 27 ; Allen's 
Biog. Diet. art. Hancock; Loring's 
Hundred Orators. Mr. Hancock was 
governor of Massachusetts, in all, 
eleven years, viz., from October, 1780, 
to Februarv, 1785, and from 1787 to 
1793. He died October 8, 1793, aged 
56 years. John Adams, whose char- 
acter has also been the subject of 
much illiberal comment, bears noble 
testimony to the worth of Governor 
Hancock. " You never profoundly 
admired Mr. Hancock," he wrote to 
William Tudor. " He had vanity and 
caprice. I can say with truth that I 
profoundly admired him, and more 
profoundly loved him. If he had 
vanity and caprice, so had I. And if 
his vanity and caprice made me some- 
times sputter, as you know they often 
did, mine, I well know, had often a 
similar effect upon him. But these 
little flickerings of little passions de- 
termine nothing concerning essential 
characters. I knew Mr. Hancock 
from his cradle to his grave. He 
was radically generous and benevo- 
lent. . . . Though I never in- 

jured or justly offended him, and 
though I spent much of my time and 
suffered unknown anxiety in defend- 
ing his property, reputation, and lib- 
erty from persecution, I cannot but 
reflect upon myself for not paying 
him more respect than I did in his 
lifetime. His life will, however, not 
ever be written. But if statues, obe- 
lisks, pyramids, or divine honors were 
ever merited, by men, of cities or na- 
tions, James Otis, Samuel Adams, 
and John Hancock deserved these 
from the town of Boston and the 
United States. . . . Mr. Han- 
cock had a delicate constitution. He 
was very infirm ; a great part of his 
life was passed in acute pain. . . . 
Yet it was astonishing with what pa- 
tience, perseverance, and punctuality 
he attended to business to the last. 
Nor were his talents or attainments 
inconsiderable. They were far supe- 
rior to many who have been much 
more celebrated. He had a great 
deal of political sagacity and penetra- 
tion into men. He was by no means 
a contemptible scholar or orator. " 
Adams's Cor. in Works, x. 259-261. 


The question of slavery had for many years attracted the 
attention of patriots and philanthropists, and pamphlets and 
1780 essays had been published to discourage the holding the black 
1784. race in bondage. The odious traffic in human beings, indeed, 
was never sanctioned in Massachusetts ; and, under the colo- 
nial and the provincial charters, the slave trade was deprecated 

J 6 ^- as a disgrace to humanity. 1 Hence, when, in 1645, two Afri- 
cans, supposed to have been kidnapped, were brought into the 
colony by " Captain Smith," to be sold as slaves, they were 

Nov. 4. ordered to be liberated ; and a law was passed prohibiting 
the buying and selling of slaves, " except those taken in law- 
ful war, or reduced to servitude for their crimes." 2 Yet 
slaves were owned by the wealthier class until the opening of 
the revolution ; 3 but the General Court continued to express 
their abhorrence of the slave trade, and endeavored to dis- 
countenance the practice of holding slaves. In conventions, 
also, the subject was agitated ; and the convention at Worces- 

Jun!'i4. * er resolved " that we abhor the enslaving of any of the. hu- 
man race, and particularly of the negroes in this country ; 
and that, whenever there shall be a door opened, or opportu- 
nity presented, for any thing to be done towards the emanci- 
pation of the negroes, we will use our influence and endeavor 
that such a thing may be brought about." 4 At the opening 

Oct 7 iV °^ ^ ne rev °l u tion, likewise, the people of Massachusetts de- 
clared their intention to " take into consideration the state 
and circumstances of the negro slaves in this province ; " 5 

1 Belknap, in 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 4 Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 110. 
196, 201. 5 See vol. ii. 496, and comp. Jour. 

2 Mass. Rec's, ii. 168 ; iii. 46 ; Sav- Prov. Cong. 29. In many of the 
age's Winthrop, ii. 298-300, 462 ; towns, votes were passed against sla- 
1 M. H. Coll. iv. 195. very ; and a number of blacks enlist- 

3 In the wills of the wealthy, slaves ed in the army, and did good service 
are frequently named, and they were during the war. 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 
bequeathed as legacies to children or 203; Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 110. 
friends. For the statistics of slavery An able " Address to the Inhabitants 
in Massachusetts before and after the of the British Settlements in Ameri- 
revolution, see 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 198, ca upon Slave Keeping" was printed 
199 ; Annals Am. Statist. Association, at Philadelphia, and reprinted at Bos* 


and, in the fall of 1776, when several blacks were brought chap. 
into Salem, who were found on board a British prize ship ^J^ 
from Jamaica, and were advertised to be sold, the legislature 1776. 
interfered, and ordered them to be liberated. 1 And the new ep ' 
constitution, in the first article of the declaration of rights, 178O. 
based upon the noted axiom of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, declared that " all men are born free and equal " — a 
clause which was inserted by Judge Lowell, with special refer- 
ence to the subject of slavery. 

Under these circumstances, a public expression of opinion 
could not be long delayed ; and, in 1783, a judgment of the 1783. 
Supreme Judicial Court given in the county of Worcester 
was a final decision unfavorable to the existence of slavery in 
Massachusetts. The case then decided originated some time 
before, and was occasioned by a citizen's beating and imprison- 1781. 
ing his negro servant, whom he claimed as his slave. This 
offence the public would not overlook ; and the defendant was 
adjudged guilty of an assault, and was sentenced to pay a 
fine of forty shillings. 2 The abolition of slavery was thus 
virtually effected. The slave trade was prohibited in 1788 ; M 178 |g 
and, though many who had been held in bondage continued as 
servants in the families of their masters during their lives, 
at the opening of the nineteenth century there were few such 
left, and the institution died a natural death. 3 

ton in 1773 ; and a second edition was and of the progress of emancipation, 
printed at Philadelphia in the same see Kent's Commentaries, ii. 347, and 
year. Author, Dr. Benjamin Rush, compare Bancroft's U. S. i. chap. 5, 
" A Forensic Dispute on the Legali- and Walsh's Appeal, 306-424. 
ty of enslaving the Africans, held at l Jour. H. of R. for Sept. 13, 1776; 
the public Commencement in Cam- Felt's Salem, ii. 417 ; Bradford, ii. 
bridge, N. E., July 21, 1773, by 124. On the 9th of June, 1777, a 
two Candidates for the Bachelor's De- bill was reported in the House of 
gree,"— Theophilus Parsons and Eliph- Representatives "for preventing the 
alet Pearson, — was printed at Bos- practice of holding persons in slave- 
ton in 1773. The argument in the ry." Jour. H. of R. for June 9, 1777. 
case of James Somersett, a negro, 2 1 M. H. Coll. v. 203 ; Bradford, 
before the Court of King's Bench, ii. 226. For an account of a suit in 
was reprinted in Boston in 1774. For 1770, which also terminated in favor 
John Adams's opinion on slavery, see of the slave, see 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 
Works, ix. 92. For a condensed his- 202, and Coffin's Newbury, 
tory of slavery in the United States, 3 Bradford, ii. 329 ; Belknap, in 



The census of the state, taken in the spring of 1784, showed 
an aggregate population of three hundred and fifty-eight thou- 

1784. sand souls, of whom four thousand three hundred and seventy- 
1776. seven were blacks. The census of 1776 gave three hundred 

and forty-nine thousand inhabitants ; and this small increase 
in the period of eight years is doubtless to be attributed partly 
to the removal of many families to Vermont and New York, 
but principally to the losses sustained in the war, during which 
thousands of the citizens of Massachusetts perished. 1 

The health of Mr. Hancock, which was never firm, had been 
failing for some time, in consequence of his cares and his 

1785. manner of living. Hence, in the winter of 1784-5, he de- 

J an. 

clined a reelection to the chair of the chief magistracy ; and, 

in the following spring, James Bowdoin, though failing to 

May. receive a majority vote, was chosen by the legislature to fill 

his place. Mr. Bowdoin belonged to one of the first families 

1 M. H. Coll. iv. 197, 205. For an 
account of the attempt to discourage 
the slave trade, see ibid. 201 et seq. ; 
and for an elaborate note on slavery 
in Essex county, see Coffin's New- 
bury, 334-350. See also Jackson's 
Newton, 87-98. An action was tried 
in 1791, in the county of Bristol, 
which manifested the feelings of the 
people relative to the slave trade. 
See Bradford, iii. 31. A valuable 
essay " On the Slavery and Com- 
merce of the Human Species," &c, 
was read before the University of 
Cambridge, England, printed in Lon- 
don, and reprinted in Philadelphia, 
in 1786. Clarkson's Essay .on the 
Impolicy of the African Slave Trade, 
and Brissot de Warville's Oration 
on the Abolition of the African Slave 
Trade, were also reprinted at Phil- 
adelphia in 1788. The Pennsyl- 
vania Abolition Society, begun in 
1774, and enlarged in 1787, printed 
their Constitution, with the Acts of 
the Pennsylvania Assembly, in the 
same year. St. George Tucker's Dis- 
sertation on Slavery, and Proposals 

for its Abolition in Virginia, was pub- 
lished at Philadelphia m 1796. The 
memorials of several of the states for 
the abolition of slavery were sent to 
Congress, and printed in 1792. The 
Proceedings of the Convention at 
Philadelphia were published in 1795. 
Noah Webster, Jun., Esq., of the Con- 
necticut Society for the Promotion of 
Freedom, published a pamphlet on 
the Effects of Slavery on Morals and 
Industry, at Hartford, in 1792. I he 
discussions upon slavery in the Con- 
gress of the United States from 1790 
to 1792 were quite exciting. Comp. 
Hildreth's U. S. 2d series, vols. i. and 
ii. Numerous pamphlets on slavery 
were published in England from 1784 
to 1796. 

1 Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S. 
583 ; Bradford, ii. 228. The popu- 
lation in 1790 gave for Massachusetts 
478,000 souls, of whom 100,000 were 
in the District of Maine, and 378,000 
in Massachusetts proper. Not a sin- 
gle slave was then returned from Mas- 
sachusetts. Bradford, iii. 30. 


in the state, and was eminent for his dignity, his integrity, chap. 
and the amiableness of his character. 1 His political oppo- ^J^, 
nents, of course, were numerous ; nor did they fail to intimate 1785. 
doubts of his loyalty to the principles of freedom. But his 
whole life had been a continuous proof of his sympathy for 
liberty ; and, if he was " less ardent in his disposition, and less 
desirous of conforming to merely popular sentiments, than many 
others, who became therefor the greater favorites of the com- 
mon people," there are not a few, probably, who will esteem 
this a venial offence, more than counterbalanced by that cor- 
rectness of judgment and prudence of conduct which seldom 
fail to command respect, and which are, indeed, among the 
best and noblest qualifications for the serious duties of public 
life. He who seeks the permanent welfare of the people by 
" reminding them of their obligations, and by giving them in 
his own person an example of all the social virtues/' it should 
seem, is quite as worthy of confidence and support as he who 
builds upon more showy qualities. 2 

During the administration of Governor Bowdoin, a con- 

1 Mr. Bowdoin, who was born in ways active in the service of his na- 
Boston, August 7, 1726, and graduat- tive land, and devoted himself, heart 
ed at Harvard College in 1745, was a and soul, to the promotion of its in- 
descendant of Pierre Baudouin, the terests. For sixteen years previous 
Huguenot exile, who settled on the to the opening of the revolution, he 
high road from Portland to Vaughan's was a member of the Council of Mas- 
Bridge in 1687, and who in 1690 re- sachusetts. 

moved to Boston. " He was of that 2 Bradford, ii. 236, 237. " The 
same noble stock," observes Mr. best security of a governor," says the 
Winthrop, Addresses and Speeches, author of Cato's Letters, " is the af- 
92, " which gave three presidents out fections of the people, which he may 
of nine to the old Congress of the always gain by making their interests 
Confederation ; which gave her Lau- his own. They will then, as they love 
renses and Marions, her Hugers and themselves, love him, and defend him 
Manigaults, her Prioleaus and Gail- who defends them. This is the nat- 
lards. and Legares to South Carolina ; ural basis of superiority and distinc- 
which gave her Jays to New York, tion." Such were the views of Gov- 
her Boudinots to New Jersey, her ernor Bowdoin. For a valuable sketch 
Brimmers, her Dexters, and her Pe- of the life and services of this distin- 
ter Faneuil, with the Cradle of Lib- guished patriot, see the able address 
erty, to Massachusetts." The public of Hon. It. C. Winthrop before the 
life of Governor Bowdoin extended Me. Hist. Soc. Sept. 5, 1849, in Win- 
over a period of more than thirty throp's Addresses and Speeches, 90- 
years, during which time he was al- 137. 


chap, vention was held in Falmouth, now Portland, to discuss tho 

^^ propriety of forming into a separate state the District of 
1785. Maine. The want of a separate government had long' been 
' felt in those parts ; and. as a number of persons of probity 
and wealth were desirous of a separation, they had prevailed 
with others to meet and consider the expediency of the meas- 
ure. 1 But their proceedings were believed to be " irregular ; " 

Oct. 20. and the governor, in his speech to the General Court, referred 
to the call of the convention, and represented the course taken 
by its friends as having " an evil tendency towards dismem- 
bering the commonwealth. 77 The House, in their reply, con- 
curred in these views, censured the " attempts by individuals 
or bodies of men to dismember the state," which, in their esti- 
mation, were " fraught with improprieties and danger," and, in 
conclusion, observed that the " social compact, solemnly entered 
into by the people of this commonwealth, ought to be guarded 
with the utmost care ; and it will," they added, " ever be the 
aim of the legislature to prevent all infractions of it, and to 
preserve the constitution entire." 

Jar» 86 4 ^ et ' notwithstanding these declarations, the convention met 
a second time, and chose a committee of nine to prepare a 
statement of evils and grievances, and an estimate of the ex- 
pense of a separate government. 2 Their report was presented 

Jan. 5. on the following day ; and, after it had been ordered to be 
signed by the president, and sent to every town in the 
district, 3 a third convention was appointed to be holden on 

1 The Falmouth Gazette, the only 1, 1785; but only thirty persons were 

paper then published in Maine, was present, from different towns in the 

crowded with addresses to the people district. Comp. 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 27, 35. 

on this subject; and clergymen, phy- 2 This convention consisted of thir- 

sicians, lawyers, and farmers seemed ty-three members from twenty of the 

engaged in accelerating the event, towns in the district, and was organ- 

" They all employed both their pens ized by the choice of Hon. William 

and their private influence in convin- Gorham as president, and Stephen 

cing their fellow-citizens of the pro- Longfellow, Jun., as secretary. 1 M. 

priety and advantages of becoming a H. Coll. iv. 27, 28. 

distinct member of the Union." The 3 For this report, see 1 M. H. ColL 

notification for a meeting was published iv. 36-38. 
in the Gazettes for Sept. 17 and Oct. 


the first Wednesday in September. This convention, which chap. 
consisted of thirty-one persons, from the counties of York, ^^ 
Cumberland, and Lincoln, renewed the complaints of the 1786. 
former assembly, and appointed a committee to petition the 
General Court for a separation, after which it was adjourned Sept. 8. 
to the following January. 1 In the mean time, the opposition 
began to be formidable, and remonstrances were sent in 
against the petition. But this did not discourage the friends 
of the measure ; and, on the reassembling of the convention, j^ 8 ^ 
though only about a third of the towns were represented, it 
was found that, of the whole number of votes cast, amounting 
to nine hundred and seventy, six hundred and eighteen were 
in favor of a separation, and three hundred and fifty-two were 
opposed ; or, reckoning by towns, of the thirty-two out of 
ninety-three which were represented, twenty-four voted in the 
affirmative, and eight in the negative. 2 The motion, however, 
that the petition for a separation should be sent to the legisla- 
ture, was unexpectedly negatived ; and, though the vote was 
reconsidered by a majority of two, and the subject was kept 
alive by adjournment for more than a year, in the end it was 
dropped, or " rocked into a slumber," from which it was not 
aroused for several years. 3 

In the midst of these difficulties, the General Court, " always 
disposed to administer justice towards the eastern people in a 
spirit of conciliatory generosity and affection," devised meas- 
ures to " cool and abate the high separation fever." To this 
end, wild lands were exempted from taxation for the period 

1 There were two conventions as- the affirmative. He also says that 
sembled at this time, but a " coales- this meeting was held on the 3d of 
cence " was effected, and they acted January, whereas, from the statement 
in conjunction. 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 30. in 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 32, it appears that 
The petition to the General Court, the former convention was adjourned 
with the accompanying address, is to the last Wednesday in January, 
in ibid. 38-40. which was the 31st of the month. 

2 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 32. William- _ 3 1 M. H. Coll. iv. 25 ; Bradford, 
son, Hist. Me. ii. 531, says there were ii. 249 ; Williamson's Maine, ii. 521- 
994 votes cast, of which 645 were in 532. 

VOL. III. 13 



chap, of ten years from the date of the execution of the state's deed 
^i^ to grantees ; the fee bill was revised ; the law for the relief 
1787. of poor debtors was amended ; roads were laid out at the 
public expense ; a term of the Supreme Court, and an addi- 
tional term of the Common Pleas and Sessions, were estab- 
lished at Pownalborough ; the laws of the state were ordered 
to be published in the Falmouth Gazette ; permanent inhabit- 
ants, settled upon the public lands prior to 1784, were quieted 
by a deed of one hundred acres, on the payment of five dol- 
lars ; a college was established and patronized in the District ; 
and every thing was done that could be to evince a willing- 
ness to treat the people with suitable liberality. 1 
1786. Upon his reelection to the chief magistracy, in 1786, by the 
vote of three fourths of the people of the state, Governor 
June 2. Bowdoin, in his annual message, took occasion to refer to the 
interests of education, and urged upon the legislature special 
attention to the wants of the time-honored college at Cam- 
bridge. Alluding to the article in the constitution whieh 
required the General Court to provide for its support and 
prosperity, and to the difficulties under which it had labored, 
he proposed that the grants of land which had been made for 
its benefit should be fully secured, and, in addition, that a 
portion in the new township should be reserved for its use. 
He reminded them that this institution had been dear to their 
fathers, and had been held in esteem by the English gov- 
ernment, and expressed his confidence that a republican legis- 
lature could not neglect the interests of science. Nor was 
this appeal without effect ; and the action of the General 
Court furnishes satisfactory proof that a liberal spirit still 
guided its counsels, and that piety and learning were still 
esteemed by the people of New England. 2 

1 Address to Inhabitants of Maine, 2 Worcester Mag. No. 11, for June, 
Portland, 1791 ; Williamson's Maine, 1786; Bradford, ii. 254, 255. 
ii. 532, 533. 


Domestic manufactures, amidst the bustle of war, had fallen chap. 
into decay ; and the people, unable to attend to their improve- J^ 
ment, had become accustomed to depend for their supplies 1786. 
upon imports from Europe. A heavy debt was thus incurred, 
of the burden of which all classes complained. Hence, to 
remedy this evil, and at the same time to give a new stimulus 
to industry in the state, an agreement was entered into by a 
number of the wealthiest and most respectable citizens, to dis- 
courage the use and importation of foreign goods by wearing 
homespun clothes. The governor himself subscribed to this 
agreement, with Lieutenant Governor Gushing, and a number 
of members of the Council and Senate ; and, influenced by 
their example, in the most fashionable circles it was the pride 
of those who wished to be thought patriotic to appear in gar- 
ments of American fabrics ; and the spinning wheel and loom 
were busily plied in all parts of the state. 1 

It was, however, at a later date, and after Governor Han- 
cock had resumed the chair, that the legislature of Massachu- 
setts acted officially, and, by special enactments, gave public 
encouragement to such branches of industry as promised to be 

1 Bradford, ii. 270. Comp. Wil- the state of manufactures in Massa- 
liamson's Maine, ii. 533. President chusetts, see the Messages of Gov. 
Washington, it is said, on delivering Bowdoin, and comp. Winthrop's Ad- 
his speech to Congress, in January, dress on the Life and Services of 
1790, was dressed in a suit of broad- James Bowdoin, in Addresses and 
cloth from the woollen factory of Speeches, 119-122, and the Mem. of 
Colonel Jeremiah Wads worth, recent- Slater. On the 20th of August, 1788, 
ly established in Hartford, Connecti- the tradesmen and manufacturers of 
cut. Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S. Boston issued a circular letter to 
469. For an account of the " spin- " their brethren in the several sea- 
ning match " in Newbury, April 4, ports in the Union," which was pub- 
1787, see Coffin's Newbury, 261, and lished in Carey's American Museum, 
the Essex Journal for April 4, 1787. iv. 347. The same work also con- 
The Rev. Mr. Murray, at whose house tains several valuable articles on Amer- 
the " match " took place, delivered a ican manufactures, especially of cot- 
discourse upon the occasion, selecting ton, and on the introduction of the 
as his text the words recorded in Ex- culture of cotton into the United 
odus xxxv. 25 : " And all the women States, which had not then been com- 
that were wise-hearted did spin with menced, but which has since revolu- 
their hands." Doubtless similar scenes tionized the history of the Southern 
were witnessed in many parts of the States, and proved one of the strong- 
state. For valuable information upon est bulwarks of slavery. 



chap, useful, and for the prosecution of which the requisite materials 
^^ could be procured. Hence a duck manufactory was estab- 

1789. lished in " Frog Lane," in Boston, and a cotton manufactory in 

1790. Beverly, both of which received pecuniary aid from the General 
Court — the former in the way of a bounty upon the duck 
manufactured, and the latter by a grant of eastern lands. 1 
The manufacture of pot and pearl ashes was likewise increased 
in the interior of the state, and the two hundred and forty 
establishments which sprang up supplied those who tra 
England with a valuable article for exportation. 2 Nails were 
also manufactured in large quantities ; and it is said that, in 
many dwellings, small forges were erected, at which even 
boys worked with their fathers, in the long winter evenings — 
thus contributing an appreciable quota to the income of the 
family. 3 

1 Mass. Laws for 1789, chap. xlii. ; 
1 M. H. Coll. iii. 279 ; Bradford, ii. 
329. Comp. Abbe Robin's New 
Travels, 16. So early as 1780, an as- 
sociation was formed in Worcester 
for the purpose of spinning and 
weaving cotton; a subscription was 
raised for defraying the expense of 
a jenny; on the 30th of April, it 
was announced in the Spy that " on 
Tuesday last the first piece of cor- 
duroy made in the manufactory in 
this town was taken from the loom ; " 
and, in 1790, fustians, jeans, cordu- 
roys, and "federal rib and cotton" 
were advertised for sale by Samuel 
Brazier. The site of the first mill was 
on the stream below the Court Mills. 
Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 321. For 
an account of the exertions of Mr. 
Orr, of Bridgewater, in introducing 
the cotton manufacture into the Old 
Colonv, see Mitchell's Bridgewater, 
59, and 1 M. H. Coll. ix. 266. The 
first cotton factory in America is said 
to have been established at North 
Providence, R. I., under the auspices 
of Almy and Brown, by Samuel Sla- 
ter, the father of this branch of busi- 
ness in the United States; and his 

old mill is yet standing. Mem. of 
Slater ; Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S. 
468. On the factorv in Beverly es- 
tablished in 1789 or i790, see Stone's 
Beverly, Felt's Salem, ii. 162, and 
Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S. 468. 
On the manufacture of lace, of thread, 
and silk, in 1790, see Felt's Ipswich, 
101. On the manufacture of wool cards 
in Boston, see 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 279, 
and Mass. Mag. for May, 1791. 

2 Mass. Laws for June, 1791, chap, 
ix. ; Bradford, ii. 329 ; Lincoln's Hist. 
Worcester, 321. For valuable hints 
on the manufactures of Massachusetts, 
see 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 276-286. On 
the general commerce of Massachu- 
setts before the year 1800, see Pit- 
kin's Statistics, passim ; Abbe Robin's 
New Travels, 15-17. 

3 Mass. Laws for 1790, 1791, and 
1794; Bradford, ii. 329. The statis- 
tics of the iron manufacture in Massa- 
chusetts previous to 1790 are quite 
imperfect. It is known, however, that 
a number of furnaces and forges had 
been established both in the Old Col- 
ony and in the Massachusetts Bay — 
the principal establishments being at 
Norton, Easton, Dighton, Weymouth, 


The settlement of the claim between Massachusetts and chap. 
New York was amicably effected during the administration 
of Governor Bowdoin. This claim was to a part of the ter- 
ritory to the west of the Hudson River ; but it was resisted 
by New York • and the subject was referred to the General 
Congress by the authorized agents of both the states, and 
commissioners were appointed to settle the controversy. 
These commissioners held several meetings, but without arriv- 
ing at a satisfactory conclusion ; and the agents of the two 
states met at Hartford, where it was agreed that Massachusetts y 86, 

7 ° Dec. 

should have the preemptive right to two large tracts of land, 
containing about five millions of acres, within the bounds 
claimed, a portion of which was situated near the centre of 
the state, and the rest to the westward, bordering on Lake 
Erie. The jurisdiction over these lands, however, was contin- 
ued in New York ; and Massachusetts, on her part, relinquished 
forever the residue of her claim, excepting the most western 
part, which had been previously granted and ceded to Con- 
gress, and which formed a part of the northern and western 
territory bordering upon the British possessions. The boun- 
dary line of the two states, which was likewise in dispute, was 1787. 
adjusted by skilful mathematicians and the geographer of the 
United States, who were employed with the consent of the 
General Congress. 1 

Hanover, Bridgewater, Lynn, &c. The opening of the revolution ; and, dur- 
" Federal Furnace," in Carver, was ing the war, the same gentleman was 
established in 1794. Hugh Orr, Esq., employed in casting camion and balls. 
a native of Scotland, was one of the Hobart's Abington, 90. John Noyes 
earliest edge tool manufacturers in is alluded to in the messages of Gov- 
Massachusetts. He also manufactured ernor Bowdoin as a person interested 
firearms and cannon for the United in the iron manufacture, who, in con- 
States during the revolution. The junction with Paul Revere, Jbis part- 
shovel factory at Easton was estab- ner, offered to erect works in this 
lished quite early, and, under the con- state, if they could obtain sufficient 
duct of the Messrs. Ames, is at pres- encouragement from the legislature, 
ent one of the most extensive manu- The manufacture of axes, hoes, and 
factories in the United States. 1 M. other industrial implements, had also 
H. Coll. ix. 264 ; Mitchell's Bridge- been introduced. 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 
water, 58. Meeting-house bells are *282. On the manufacture of glass, 
said to have been cast in Abington, see Mass. Laws for 1793, chap. iii. 
by Colonel Aaron Hobart, before the 1 Case of the Prov. of Mass. Bay 


Of the manners and customs of the people it is proper that 
something should be said in this place, in order to show the 
1781. state of society at the close of the revolution, and the prog- 
ress which had been made within a few years. It is to be 
regretted that our statistics are so imperfect, since the labor 
of collecting information is thus greatly increased. To be 
obliged to rely upon detached hints and occasional allusions 
is exceedingly annoying ; yet, as the field has never been 
fully explored, there is no alternative but to follow such guides, 
however inadequate, until better can be found. Boston is 
described by a French traveller, in 1781, as presenting " a 
magnificent prospect of houses, built on a curved line, and 
extending afterwards into a semicircle above half a league." 
" These edifices," he adds, "which were lofty andregular, with 
spires and cupolas intermixed at proper distances, did not 
seem to us a modern settlement so much as an ancient city, 
enjoying all the embellishments and population that never fail 
to attend on commerce and the arts." 

" The inside of the town," he continues, " does not at all 
lessen the idea that is formed by an exterior prospect. A 
superb wharf has been carried out above two thousand feet 

and N. Y. fol. 1764 ; Bradford, ii. 283 men of business — testified their af- 
-285, iii. 32, 33. A portion of these fection and respect by joining in the 
New York lands was sold in 1787, solemn procession; and crowds of 
and brought into the treasury of the spectators lined the streets through 
state the respectable sum of a million which it passed, whilst an uncommon 
of dollars ; and the balance was sold silence and order every where marked 
in 1791 for $100,000. The death of the deepness of their sorrow." Win- 
Governor Bowdoin, which took place throp's Addresses, and Speeches, 130. 
on the 6th of November, 1790, less "It may be said," observes Judge 
than seven months after the death of Lowell, in his Eulogy on Bowdoin, 
the illustrious Franklin, between whom " that our country has produced many 
and Bowdoin a long and genial friend- men of as much genius, many men of 
ship had existed, should not pass un- as much learning and knowledge, 
noticed here. " Great and respecta- many of as much zeal for the liber- 
ble," we are told, " was the concourse ties of their country, and many of as 
which attended his funeral ; every great piety and virtue ; but is it not 
species of occupation was suspended ; rare indeed to find those in whom they 
all ranks and orders of men — the^ have all been combined, and been 
clergy and the laity, the magistrate adorned with his other accomplish- 
and the citizen, men of leisure and ments ? " 


into the sea, and is broad enough for stores and workshops chap. 
through the whole of its extent. 1 It communicates at right ,^^ 
angles with the principal street of the town, which is both 178I. 
large and spacious, and bends in a curve parallel to the har- 
bor. 2 This street is ornamented with elegant buildings, for 
the most part two or three stories high ; and many other 
streets terminate in this, communicating with it on each side. 
The form and construction of the houses would surprise an 
European eye. They are built of brick and wood — not in 
the clumsy and melancholy taste of our ancient European 
towns, but regularly, and well provided with windows and 
doors. The woodwork, or frame, is light, covered on the 
outside with thin boards, well planed, and lapped over each 
other, as we do tiles on our roofs in France. 3 These build- 
ings are generally painted with a pale white color, which 
renders the prospect much more pleasing than it would other- 
wise be. The roofs are set off with balconies, doubtless for 

1 Long Wharf is here referred to, of the early-framed houses at the west 
which was 1743 feet in length, and had no other external covering than 
144 feet in breadth. In 1794, it is these " weather boards," sawed, or 
said, there were eighty wharves and roughly split from the log, and nailed 
quays, chiefly on the east side of the upon the studding. New England 
town. For an account of these, see houses, however, were more substan- 
Description of Boston, in 1 M. H. tially built, and had not only an out- 
Coll, iii. 248, 249. ward covering of boards and clap- 

2 Washington Street is doubtless boards, but the walls were often lined 
meant, a portion of which was then with brick between the studding, 
called Marlborough Street. The enu- which made the building warmer in 
meration in 1794 gave 97 streets, 36 the winter and cooler in the summer, 
lanes, 26 alleys, 18 courts, a few The small, lozenge-shaped panes of 
squares, and some short passages glass, once fashionable in the windows 
from wharves, and from one street to of country dwellings, are not alluded 
another. These streets were paved to by this author. Here and there 
with beach stones, and were " mostly one of these old-fashioned buildings 
irregular." See 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 248. may be found standing, off from the 
Glass lamps were then placed in the main road, in some by and neglected 
principal streets, which were lighted path, in a dilapidated condition, and 
at dark. The lamp lighters were ap- with nearly all the glass broken, but 
pointed by the selectmen ; and the with a few panes left in the gable win- 
lamps, oil, and attendance were paid dow, set in a leaden sash, which the 
for by the town. stones thrown by mischievous boys 

3 Called " clapboards," or " weath- have not succeeded in demolishing. 
er boards," at the present day. Many Comp. Felt's Hist. Salem, i. 408-416 



chap, the more ready extinguishing of fire. The whole is supported 
^Jj^, by a wall about a foot high. It is easy to see how great an 
1781. advantage these houses have over ours in point of neatness 
and salubrity. 1 

" Their household furniture is simple, but made of choice 
wood, after the English fashion, which renders its appearance 
less gay. Their floors are covered with handsome carpets or 
painted cloths ; but others sprinkle them with fine sand. The 
city is supposed to contain about six thousand houses, and 
thirty thousand inhabitants. 2 There are nineteen churches for 
the several sects here, 3 all of them convenient, and several 
finished with taste and elegance — especially those of the 
Presbyterians and the Church of England. Their form is 
generally a long square, ornamented with a pulpit, and fur- 
nished with pews of a similar fabrication throughout. The 
poor as well as the rich hear the word of God in these places, 
in a convenient and decent posture of body. 

1 "All the parts of these build- 
ings," he adds, " are so well joined, 
and their weight is so equally divided, 
and proportionate to their bulk, that 
they may be removed from place to 
place with little difficult}'. I have 
seen one of two stories high removed 
a quarter of a mile, if not more, 
from its original situation; and the 
whole French army have seen the 
same thing done at Newport. What 
they tell us of the travelling habita- 
tions of the Scythians is far less won- 
derful." Many houses in the country 
were painted red, and many were un- 
painted, save by the storms, which 
had stained the walls of a dark, gray- 
ish hue. 

2 On the map of Boston published 
in 1769, the number of houses in the 
town is set down at about 4000, and 
the population at 20,000. Comp. 
Drake's Boston, 772. For an enu- 
meration of the buildings in Boston 
in 1789, see 2 M. H. Coll. ix. 204- 
222. The number was 2639, in all, 

both public and private. The census 
of 1791 gave 2376 dwelling houses, 
and 18,038 inhabitants. Comp. 1 M. 
H. Coll. iii. 249-254, for a fuller de- 
scription of the public and private 
buildings in Boston. 

3 For statistics of the churches of 
Boston, see 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 256 et 
seq. ; Snow's Hist. Boston, 337 et 
seq. ; Drake's Boston. The nineteen 
alluded to in the text were, probably, 
the First, which then stood on "Wash- 
ington Street; that in Brattle Street; 
the Old South ; the First and Second 
Baptist ; the church in Federal Street; 
the New Brick Church, with which 
the Old North had been recently unit- 
ed ; Christ Church ; King's Chapel ; 
Trinity Church; the Roman Catho- 
lic ; the New North, and New South ; 
the Methodist Church ; the First Uni- 
versalist ; that in Hollis Street ; the 
Sandemanian ; the Quaker or Friends' 
meeting house ; and the West Church. 
The Old North was destroyed by the 
British in 1775. 


" Sunday is observed with the utmost strictness. All busi- chap. 
ness, how important soever, is then totally at a stand, and the ^J^ 
most innocent recreations and pleasures are prohibited. Bos- 178L 
ton, that populous town, where at other times there is such a 
hurry of business, is on this day a mere desert. You may 
walk the streets without meeting a single person ; or if, by 
chance, you meet one, you scarcely dare to stop and talk with 
him. 1 Upon this day of melancholy, you cannot go into a 
house but you find the whole family employed in reading the 
Bible ; and, indeed, it is an affecting sight to see the father of 
a family, surrounded by his household, explaining to them the 
sublime truths of this sacred volume. 

" Nobody fails here of going to the place of worship appro- 
priated to his sect. In these places there reigns a profound 
silence ; an order and respect are also observable which 
have not been seen for a long time in our Catholic churches. 
Their psalmody is grave and majestic ; and the harmony 
of the poetry, in their national tongue, adds a grace to the 
music, and contributes greatly towards keeping up the atten- 
tion of the worshippers. 2 

1 " A Frenchman that lodged with ing schools were also established ; and 
me took it into his head to play on the churches in Boston, Roxbury, Dor- 
the flute on Sundays for his amuse- Chester, Cambridge, Taunton, Bridge- 
ment. The people, upon hearing it, water, Charlestown, Ipswich, New- 
were greatly enraged, collected in bury, and Bradford were among the 
crowds round the doors, and would first to reform and improve their mu- 
have carried matters to extremity in sic. The first American organ, it is 
a short time with the musician, had said, was built by Edward Bromfield, 
not the landlord given him warning Jun., of Boston, in 1745. Dr. Frank- 
of his danger, and forced him to de- lin, in 1741, published an edition of 
sist." Dr. Watts's Hymns in Philadelphia ; 

2 On the history of church music and, the same year, an edition of the 
in New England, see the excellent Psalms was published in Boston, for 
manual of George Hood, entitled A J. Edwards. Tate and Brady's ver- 
History of Music in New England, sion was introduced about the same 
&c, Boston, 1846, and comp. Felt's date; and from this book the psalms 
Hist. Salem, i. 497-505. The " re- used in the Protestant Episcopal 
form " in singing was commenced in Church in the United States were 
1720, and was advocated by the cler- taken. Barnard's Psalms were pub- 
gy with great spirit*— calling forth lished in 1752, and a revised edition 
essays and discourses from Symmes, of the Bay Psalm Book, by Thomas 
Walter, Chauncy, and others. Sing- Prince, in 1758. " Urania, a Colleo- 


chap. " All these churches are destitute of ornaments. No ad- 
^^ dresses are made to the heart and the imagination. There is 
1781. no visible object to suggest to the mind for what purpose a 
man comes into these places, who he is, and what he will 
shortly be. Neither painting nor sculpture represent those 
great events which ought to recall him to his duty, and awaken 
his gratitude ; nor are those heroes in piety brought into view 
whom it is his duty to admire and endeavor to imitate. 1 The 
pomp of ceremony is here wanting to shadow out the great- 
ness of the Being he goes to worship. There are no proces- 
sions to testify the homage we owe to him, that great Spirit 
of the universe, by whose will nature itself exists, and through 
whom the fields are covered with harvests, and the trees are 
loaded with fruits. 

" Piety, however, is not the only motive that brings the 
American ladies in crowds to the various places of worship. 
Deprived of all shows and public diversions whatever, the 
church is the grand theatre where they attend to display their 
extravagance and finery. There they come, dressed off in the 
finest silks, and overshadowed with a profusion of the finest 
plumes. The hair of the head is raised and supported on 
cushions to an extravagant height, somewhat resembling the 
manner in which the French ladies wore their hair some years 
ago. 2 Instead of powdering, they often wash the head, which 

tion of Psalm Tunes, &c," was pub- from the Catholic standpoint. How 
lished in 1761, in Philadelphia, and far Protestants have erred in the re- 
Flagg's Collection of Church Music spects named in the text, different 
in Boston, in 1764. The celebrated opinions would probably be enter- 
Billings published his American Chor- tained. Simplicity in worship is 
ister in 1770. The author's grand- doubtless preferable to pomp and pa- 
father was Billings's teacher. From rade, and is more in accordance with 
this date to the year 1800, a large the genius of Christianity, as well as 
number of books were published, and more serviceable to the cause of true 
great improvements were made in and unfeigned piety, 
singing and in the character of church 2 An idea of this style of head 
music. dress may be gathered from the splen- 
1 The writer, it will be observed, did engraving representing Franklin 
speaks here as a Catholic, and looks at the court of France, surrounded by 
at the churches of New England a bevy of beautiful ladies, and crowned 


answers the purpose well enough, as their hair is commonly chap. 
of an agreeable light color ; but the more fashionable among ^ v l^ p 
them begin now to adopt the present European method of 1781. 
setting off the head to the best advantage. They are of a 
large size and well proportioned ; their features generally 
regular, and their complexion fair, without ruddiness. They 
have less cheerfulness and ease of behavior than the ladies of 
France, but more of greatness and dignity. I have even 
imagined that I have seen something in them that answers to 
the ideas of beauty we gain from the masterpieces of those 
artists of antiquity which are yet extant in our days. The 
stature of the men is tall, and their carriage erect ; but the 
make is rather slim, and the color inclining to pale. They 
are not so curious in their dress as the women ; but every 
thing about them is neat and proper. At twenty-five years 
of age, the women begin to lose the freshness and bloom of 
youth ; and at thirty-five their beauty is gone. 1 The decay of 
the men is equally premature ; and I am inclined to think that 
life is here proportionably short. I visited all the burying 
grounds in Boston, where it is usual to inscribe upon the stone 
over each grave the name and age of the deceased, and found 

with a laurel wreath by the hands of hands, and stamping their feet, during 
one of their number. It is said to the intervals of the service, and at 
have been the custom, before the open- pauses or breaks in the good pastor's 
ing of the revolutionary war, for fe- discourse. Some old ladies took small 
males to sit in meeting covered ; but, footstoves with them, filled with coals 
on the 25th of May, 1775, the good from a neighboring house, 
people of Abington seem to have l The style of dress recently in- 
been struck with the impropriety of troduced, which gives such a peculiar 
this custom, and voted " that it was rotundity to the fashionable lady, was 
an indecent way that the female sex not unknown in those days, and is, 
do sit in their hats and bonnets to indeed, but a revival of the famous 
worship God in his house, and of- " hooped petticoats," which were such 
fensive to many of the good people an abomination in the eyes of the Pu- 
of this town." Hobart's Abington, ritans. I have met with some lines 
135. In the winter season, meeting in an old paper, published in 1781, 
houses were not warmed by wood " On seeing a young lady with very 
fires in huge iron stoves ; but the short stays, and a wide hoop ; " but 
worshippers managed to keep from it would hardly be proper to insert 
freezing by threshing then* arms and them here. 


chap, that few who had arrived to a state of manhood ever advanced 
^J^ beyond their fortieth year, fewer still to seventy, and beyond 
178L that scarcely any." 1 

Of the residents in the country our author speaks on this 
wise : " Scattered about among the forests, the inhabitants 
have little intercourse with each other except when they go 
to church. Their dwelling houses are spacious, proper, airy, 
and built of wood, and are at least one story in height ; and 
herein they keep all their furniture and substance. In all Of 
them that I have seen I never failed to discover traces of 
their active and inventive genius. They all know how to 
read ; and the greater part of them take the gazette printed 
in their village, which they often dignify with the name of 
town or city. I do not remember ever to have entered a sin- 
gle house without seeing a large family Bible, out of which 
they read, on evenings and Sundays, to their household. 
They are of a cold, slow, and indolent disposition, and averse 
to labor 2 — the soil, with a moderate tillage, supplying them 
with considerably more than they consume. They go and 
return from their fields on horseback ; and in all this country 
you will scarcely see a traveller on foot. The mildness of 

1 Contrary to the idea which gen- the bulk of the people more die from 

erally prevails, that the proportion of care than from either of these causes. 

those who live to old age in the nine- The many sudden deaths of active 

teenth century is less than that of business men may doubtless be ascrib- 

those who lived in the eighteenth ed to this cause — over-eagemess and 

century, I am satisfied, from a careful over-anxiety. 

survey of the statistical tables of dif- 2 This remark is incorrect, as a 

ferent periods, that a larger propor- more active and industrious race can 

tion now live beyond the bounds of scarcely be found than the yeomanry 

" threescore years and ten " than at- of New England. It is only to be 

tained to that age a century ago. Of regretted that the fault of former 

the native population, less die in in- days should still prevail in many 

fancy now than then, and more sur- places — a want of enterprise and of 

vive the trying crises of life. Exces- a desire for improvement in the mat- 

sive devotion to business and exces- ter of farm management. The agri- 

sive mental anxiety are the two great- cultural societies of the state, howev- 

est foes to longevity; and though er, are rapidly remedying this evil, 

there are doubtless many who dig and infusing a spirit of emulation into 

their graves with their 'teeth, and the young, 
many who are slain by then lusts, of 


their character is as much owing to climate as to their cus- chap. 
toms and manners ; fos you find the same softness of disposi- ^^ 
tion even in the animals of the country. 1781. 

" The Americans of these parts are very hospitable. They 
have commonly but one bed in the house ; and the chaste 
spouse, although she were alone, would divide it with her guest 
without hesitation or fear. What history relates of the vir- 
tues of the young Lacedemonian women is far less extraordi- 
nary. There is here such a confidence in the public virtue, 
that, from Boston to Providence, I have often met young . 
women travelling alone, on horseback or in small riding 
chairs, through the woods, even when the day was far upon 
the decline. 1 In these fortunate retreats, the father of a fam- 
ily sees his happiness and importance increasing with the 
number of his children. He is not tormented with the ambi- 
tious desire of placing them in a rank of life in which they 
might blush to own him for a father. Bred up under his eye, 
and formed by his example, they will not cover his old age 
with shame, nor bring those cares and vexations upon him 
that would sink his gray hairs with sorrow to the tomb. He 
no more fears this than he would a fancied indigence that 
might one day come upon him, wound his paternal feelings, 
and make the tender partner of his bed repent that she was 
ever the mother of his children. Like him, they will bound 
their cares, their pleasures, and even their ambition, to the 
sweet toils of a rural life — to the raising and multiplying 
their herds, and the cultivating and enlarging their fields and 
orchards. These American husbandmen, more simple in their 
manners than our peasants, have also less of their roughness 

1 This trait of New England char- dresses them. If one of the other 
acter is still preserved, to a great ex- sex passes by, he passes in silence, or 
tent, in many of the inland settle- with the greeting of " Good even- 
ments. There, women seldom fear to ing," uttered in a pleasant and re- 
return alone, in the evening and at a spectful tone. Long may this con- 
late hour, from a visit to a neighbor, tinue to be the case. 
No one molests them j no one ad- 


chap, and rusticity. More enlightened, they possess neither their 
_J^_ l° w cunning nor dissimulation. Farther removed from luxu- 
1781. rious arts, and less laborious, they are not so much attached 
to ancient usages, but are far more dexterous in inventing and 
perfecting whatever tends to the conveniency and comfort of 
life. Pulse, Indian corn, and milk are their most common 
kinds of food. They also use much tea ; and this sober infu- 
sion constitutes the chief pleasure of their lives. There is not 
a single person to be found who does not drink it out of china 
cups and saucers ; and, upon your entering a house, the great- 
est mark of civility and welcome they can show you is to 
invite you to drink it with them." 1 

"What a spectacle," he continues, "do these settlements 
even now already exhibit to our view, considering that they 
are of but little more than a century standing, and have been 
constantly under the control of English policy, — always sus- 
picious and tyrannical, — which seized the fruits of their 
industry, and rendered itself the sole possessor of their com- 
merce ! Spacious and level roads already traverse the vastly- 
extended forests of this country. Large and costly buildings 
have been raised, either for the meeting of the representatives 
of the states, for an asylum to the defenders' of their country 
in distress, or for the convenience of instructing young citizens 

1 The "china cups and saucers" re- rials of the past. The author from 

ferred to in the text were quite differ- whom I quote seems to be of opinion 

ent in appearance, as well as in size, that the use of tea is prejudicial to 

from the articles known by those health, and says, " The loss of their 

names at the present day. Both cups teeth is also attributed to the too fre- 

and saucers were very small, scarcely quent use of tea. The women, who 

holding half as much as our modern are commonly very handsome, are 

cups ; the " sugar bowl," " teapot," often, at eighteen or twenty years of 

and " cream pitcher " were all on the age, entirely deprived of this most 

same diminutive scale ; and even the precious ornament ; though I am 

" china tea plates " were of quite of opinion this premature decay may 

moderate size. Very few relics of the be rather the effect of warm bread; 

" tea services " of our grandmothers for the English, the Flemish, and the 

have been preserved, and these few Dutch, who are great tea drinkers, 

are rapidly disappearing. Specimens preserve their teeth sound a long 

should be collected before they en- time." 
tirely vanish, and preserved as memo- 


in language, arts, and science. These last, which are, for the chap. 
most part, endowed with considerable possessions and reve- ^J^ 
nues, are also furnished with libraries, and are under the 1781. 
direction of able masters, invited hither from different parts 
of Europe. Ship yards are established in all their ports, and 
they already rival the best artists of the old world in point 
of naval architecture. 1 Numerous mines have been opened ; 2 
and they have now several founderies for casting cannon, 
which are in no respect inferior to our own. And if the 
height of the architect's skill has not yet covered their waters 
with those prodigious bridges which are wont to be extended 
over the waves, and unite the opposite shores of large rivers, 
as with us, still industry and perseverance have supplied the 
want thereof. Planks, laid upon beams, lashed together with 
stout rings, and which may be taken apart at the pleasure of 
their builders, are, by their buoyancy, as solid and useful as 
our firmest works designed for the same end. In other places; 
where a river is too deep for fixing the foundation of a bridge 
on its bottom, a stout mass of timber work is thrown over, 
in a curved line, supported only at the extremities — the 

1 The French early predicted the more perfectly equipped, furnished, 
maritime greatness of the United or armed." J. Adams's Corresp. in 
States ; and Mons. Thevenard ob- Works, x. 25-27. For hints on ship 
served to John Adams, in June, 1779, building in Massachusetts previous to 
" Your country is about to become the opening of the present century, 
the first naval power in the world." see Abbe Robin's New Travels, 16 ; 
The Count de Sade likewise remarked, Brooks's Hist. Medford, 357-381; 
" Your Congress will soon become Deane's Scituate, 27, 28 ; Barry's 
one of the great maritime powers. Hanover, 156-166; Winsor's Dux- 
You have the best of timber for the bury, 349-351 ; Felt's Salem, ii., &c. 
hulks of ships, and best masts and On the trade and navigation of Bos- 
spars ; you have pitch, tar, and tur- ton in 1794, see 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 286 
pentine ; you have iron plenty ; and I -288. 

am informed you grow hemp ; you 8 " The Province of the Massachu- 
have skilful slup builders. What is setts Bay," says the Abbe Robin, 
wanting ? " See also the compliment " has mines of iron and copper. The 
of an English captain, in 1778, on one iron is of a superior quality to any 
of the American frigates : " He had other in the world, and will bear ham- 
never seen a completer ship; there mering to a surprising degree." New 
was not a frigate in the royal navy Travels, 17. Comp. also 1 M. H. 
better built, of better materials, or Coll. ix. 253 et seq. 



chap, internal strength of the structure supporting it in every other 

*~Z^~ par*- 1 

1781. " Every house and dwelling contains within itself almost 
all the original and most necessary arts. The hand that 
traces out the furrow knows also how to give the shapeless 
block of wood what form it pleases ; how to prepare the 
hides of cattle for use, and extract spirit from the juice of 
fruits. The young rural maiden, whose charming complexion 
has not been turned tawny by the burning rays of the sun, 
or withered by blasting winds, — upon whom pale misery 
has never stamped its hateful impressions, — knows how to 
spin wool, cotton, flax, and afterwards weave them into 
cloth." 2 

Such is the picture of Massachusetts and America given by 
a foreigner three fourths of a century ago. 3 The sprightli- 

1 These " floating bridges," as they 
were called, were once quite common 
in Massachusetts, but are now rarely 
seen. The first pier of the Charles 
River bridge, from Boston to Charles- 
town, was laid June 14, 1785 ; and 
June 17, 1786, the bridge was opened 
for public travel with great parade. 
The proprietors of the West Boston 
or Cambridge bridge were incorpo- 
rated March 9, 1792 ; and the 
bridge was opened in November, 1793. 
1 M. H. Coll. hi. 245 ; Boston Ga- 
zette for 1786; Snow's Hist. Boston, 
316-318; Worcester Mag. for 1786. 

2 " You have hitherto," he justly 
observes in another place, " seen the 
Americans acting rather from an im- 
pulse of cool reason than sentiment — 
better pleased with reflecting than 
thinking, and taken up with useful rath- 
er than agreeable things. And for this 
reason, legislation, politics, natural and 
mechanical philosophy may make con- 
siderable progress among them, while 
the fine arts remain unknown, and 
while even poetry, which in all other 
nations has preceded the science^, for- 
bears to raise her lofty and animated 

strains. Their towns, their villages, 
their places of abode may afford ease, 
health, and regularity, but will pre- 
sent nothing that interests and re- 
freshes the imagination. Here are 
no trees planted through the country 
in straight lines, or bent into bowers, 
to refresh the traveller with their 
shade. Here are no gardens, con- 
trived with ingenious arrangements, 
where a pleasant symmetry and a 
happy mixture of flowers inebriate 
the senses and enchant the soul. Nei- 
ther have they any theatrical shows 
or dances, or those public exhibitions 
which might give us an idea of their 
felicity and cheerful disposition." 

3 The extracts in the text are from 
a scarce tract, rarely seen or quoted, 
entitled " New Travels through North 
America, in a Series of Letters, ex- 
hibiting the History of the Victorious 
Campaign of the Allied Armies, un- 
der his Excellency General Washing- 
ton and the Count de Rochambeau, 
in the year 1781. Translated from 
the Original of the Abbe Robin, one 
of the Chaplains to the French Army 
in America. Boston : printed by E. 


ness of the narrative is not more pleasing than the good chap. 
sense of the writer ; and rarely does a stranger give so just ^J^, 
and glowing a description of manners and customs which may 1781. 
strike him by their novelty, but which, from their dissimilarity . 
to those with which he has been familiar, he is often inclined 
to look upon with contempt. Pleasing, however, as this pic- 
ture is, it has its defects ; and many points of interest are 
touched but slightly. Travelling by stage coaches was a 
recent improvement, though pleasure carriages had been in 
use among the wealthy for nearly a century. The stage routes 
were not very numerous ; and the arrival of a coach at dif- 
ferent points was quite an incident in the history of the day. 
The driver was a noted character, and was looked up to as a 
man of no little importance. His appearance upon the scene 
was usually preceded by sonorous blasts from a " horn " which 
he sported, closely resembling the " fish horn " of the present 
day ; and, as he descended the hill, and rounded up to the 
tavern door, with a smart crack of his whip, and with his horses 
at a gallop, the loungers of the bar room regarded him with 
amazement. He who could drive his " four in hand " was 
quite a genius — the envy of those who had never attempted 
so wonderful a feat. 1 

The departure of the coaches was duly announced in the 
papers of the day, and in terms which excited the curiosity 
of many. 2 Post offices were likewise established in the prin- 
cipal towns ; and the mails were conveyed by persons called 

Powars and N. Willis, for E. Bat- Drake's Boston, 664, 758. 

telle, and to be sold by him at his 2 See the volumes of the Boston 

Book Store, State Street. M.D.CC. Gazette for 1780 et seq. ; also, the 

LXXXIV." pp. 96. Mass. Spy and Essex Gazette. Sev- 

1 Comp. Felt's Hist. Salem, i. 316 eral advertisements appeared in the 

-319, and Kidder and Gould's Hist. Worcester Mag. for 1786, of a line 

N. Ipswich, N. H. A stage coach of* stages from Portsmouth, in New 

began to run regularly from Boston Hampshire, to Savannah, in Georgia, 

to Portsmouth in 1761 or 1763 ; The charge for passengers was three- 

and in 1769, a stage, afterwards dis- pence a mile, with liberty to carry 14 

continued, commenced running be- lbs. of baggage, 
tween Boston and Marblehead. 

VOL. III. 14 


chap. " post riders." The Provincial Congress settled this plan in 
^j^, 1*775, and it was now in successful operation. 1 The rates 
1781. charged were much higher than at present. On single letters, 
for any distance not exceeding sixty miles, the charge was 
five pence one farthing ; upwards of sixty, and not exceeding 
one hundred miles, the charge was eight pence ; and for a 
letter conveyed one thousand miles the charge was two shil- 
lings and eight pence. Double letters were double these 
rates ; treble letters were treble ; and for every ounce weight, 
four times as much was charged as for a single letter. 2 

Newspapers had become quite numerous ; but they were 
usually printed upon coarse paper and with poor ink, so as in 
many cases to be nearly illegible. All the paper, indeed, man- 
ufactured in Massachusetts, was coarse, but strong ; and very 
little, even of the best, was of a snowy whiteness. 3 That upon 
which books and pamphlets were printed was equally rough ; 
though there were occasional specimens of typography quite 
creditable to the publishers. The art of engraving was still 
in its infancy ; and the woodcuts which embellished the heads 

1 On the subject of mails and post from Plymouth on Friday at four 
offices, see 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 276, and o'clock, P. M., and leave his letters 
Felt's Salem, i. 326-332. The fol- with Mr. James Winthrop, postmas- 
lowing was the plan from Cambridge ter in Cambridge, on Saturday even- 
to Falmouth, in the county of Barn- ing." Thacher's Plymouth, 336. On 
stable : " To set off from Cambridge the post route to Portsmouth, N. H., 
every Monday noon, and leave his see Felt's Ipswich, 64 ; and for a de- 
letters with William Watson, Esq., scription of the " mail bag " then used, 
postmaster at Plymouth, Tuesday, at see Felt's Salem, i. 327. 
four o'clock, P. M. To set off from 2 Thacher's Plymouth, 336. 
Plymouth Wednesday, A. M., at nine 3 The first paper mill at Water- 
o'clock, and leave his letters with Mr. town was built by David Bemis, about 
Joseph Nye, 3d, postmaster in Sand- the year 1760 ; and the first at New- 
wich, Wednesday, at two o'clock, P. ton Lower Falls was built about the 
M. To set off from Sandwich at four year 1790. Jackson's Hist. Newton, 
o'clock, and leave his letters with Mr. 105. The first paper mill in Ando- 
Moses Swift, postmaster at Falmouth, ver was built by Hon. S. Phillips, in 
Thursday, A. M., at eight o'clock. 1788. Abbott's Andover, 195. On 
To set off on his return Thursday the paper mills at Milton, see 1 M. H. 
noon, and reach Sandwich at five Coll. iii. 282. There are said to have 
o'clock; and set off from thence at been twelve paper mills in operation 
six o'clock on Friday A. M., and in Massachusetts in 1794. 
reach Plymouth at noon. To set off 


of newspapers and the title pages of pamphlets were exceed- chap. 
ingly rude. Some good specimens of copper plate engraving ^J^ 
have been preserved ; and Paul Revere, of Boston, was noted 1781. 
for the general excellence of his productions. It must be 
remembered, however, that the progress of the fine arts in a 
new country is necessarily slow ; and it is only as a people 
have leisure and means to devote to such purposes that 
improvements are made, and a stimulus is given to native 
genius. 1 

In the department of general literature, we may not, per- 
haps, be able to point to many great names in the galaxy of 
American writers previous to the opening of the nineteenth 
century. A cultivated literature, in every nation, is the fruit 
of its mature age, rather than of its infancy. Thus has it 
been in all times and among all people. Before literary talent 
is liberally patronized, a country must have reached the posi- 
tion which admits of leisure to appreciate the productions of 
genius, and of wealth to extend to them the hand of encour- 
agement. Yet the genius -.of New England was never inac- 
tive ; and, though it is not claimed that our writers excelled 
the writers of England, of Germany, or of France, their pro- 
ductions will not suffer in the comparison with those of other 
lands, especially in comprehensiveness, in effectiveness, and 
power. Because the "New England Primer" was used in 

1 The engravings, by S. Hill, in might be gleaned from the early 
the Massachusetts Magazine, com- magazines and periodicals of the 
menced in 1789, and continued for country. Dunlap's History of Amer- 
several years, were quite respectable ; ican Artists is an interesting work, 
and some of them, indeed, were in and contains much valuable matter, 
excellent taste. The old American Who were the early painters in Mas- 
Magazine, published forty years ear- sachusetts before Smibert came ? "We 
lier, had also some good engravings, have excellent portraits of the emi- 
Nathaniel Hurd has been named as nent men of the past ; but most of 
the first engraver in America, in them were painted by English artists. 
1764 ; but this is doubtful. See Felt's Yet there are some which were taken 
Hist. Salem, ii. 81,82. We are in in the state before the year 1700. Dr. 
want of an elaborate history of the Appleton, the sub-librarian of the 
fine arts in America ; and many cu- Massachusetts Historical Society, in- 
rious facts relating to the subject forms me he has such in his possession. 


chap, every school, and " Mother Goose's Melodies " were read by 
^J^, evei T child, it must not be inferred that these were our clas- 

1781. sics, that there were no text books of a higher order, or that 
poetry in Massachusetts was wholly neglected. 1 If there was 
a large share of talent which was not much above mediocrity, 
there were also men of varied endowments and of liberal cul- 
ture, who gave tone to the manners of society, and fostered a 
love of the arts and the sciences. Hence, from the close of the 
French war to the year 1800, the march of improvement was 
steady and sure. 2 

Domestic habits were, for the most part, such as had been 
handed down from father to son. It was a complaint, indeed, 
against the first settlers of New England, that they were 
morose and bigoted, and condemned indiscriminately all forms 
of amusement. 

"These teach that Dancing is a Jezabell, 
And Barley-break the ready way to Hell ; 
The Morrice idols, Whitsun-ales, can be 
But prophane reliques of a Jubilee. 

1 For an account of early school of Canaan,' by Mr. Dwight ; ' M'Fin- 

books in New England, see Felt's gal,' supposed by Mr. Trumbull ; the 

Hist. Salem, i. 436 et seq. Of the Tragedy of the Patriot Chief; the 

New England Primer he says, " In Poems of Arouet, and a collection of 

one form or another, it was probably twenty-four poems just published in 

used in the primary schools of New the Southern States, are instances 

England from its first settlement till which prove the prophetic observa- 

within half a century." In the Worces- tion of the Bishop of Cloyne to be 

ter Magazine for May, 1786, appeared other than Utopian," &c. Some idea 

an article on " American Literature," of the popular poetry of those days 

which contains a few hints on its prog- may be gathered from the recently 

ress. " The original performances published work entitled " Songs and 

which have lately appeared in the Ballads of the American Revolution," 

United States," it says, " are deserv- by Frank Moore. These were the 

ing of notice, and are such as must camp songs sung by the soldiers, 
excite very pleasing emotions in eve- 2 Valuable articles on American 

ry philanthropic breast. The Me- language and literature were pub- 

moirs of the Academy of Arts and lished in the N. A. Rev. for Sept. and 

Sciences do great honor to the gen- Nov. 1815 and for July and Dec. 

tlemen who compose it, and to the 1818. 
taste of our country. The ' Conquest 


These, in a zeal t' expresse how much they do 
The Organs hate, have silenc'd Bagpipes too ; 
And harmless May poles all are rail'd upon, 
As if they were the Tow'rs of Babylon." 1 

As " honest old Stowe " has observed, however, " if open pas- 
times are supprest in youth, worse practices within doors are 
to be feared. 772 " The common people, 77 says Brand, " confined 
by daily labor, seem to require their proper intervals of relax- 
ation ; perhaps it is of the highest political utility to encour- 
age innocent sports and games among them. 77 3 Hence, if the 
Puritans erred in carrying to an excess their zeal against pop- 
ular amusements, Nature would sometimes have her way, and 
the children would secretly practise what the fathers openly 

Theatrical exhibitions were for a long time prohibited, and 
all attempts to introduce them were strenuously resisted. The 
legislature of the province not only refused to license such 
performances, but the clergy preached against them, as tend- 
ing to looseness and immorality. It was not, therefore, until 
after the revolution that the friends of the drama so far suc- 
ceeded in conquering this prejudice as to venture openly to 
patronize the theatre ; nor was there a " play house " erected 
in Boston until 1794. 4 Dancing was regarded with similar 

1 Randolph's Poems, 1646. Theatre," was printed at Boston in 

2 Survey of London, ed. 1604. 1792. Author, William Haliburton. 

3 Popular Antiquities, ed. 1777. The pamphlet is curious, and would 

4 Minot's Hist. Mass. i. 142 ; Brad- provoke many a smile if issued at the 
ford, iii. 30. Comp. Felt's Hist. Sa- present day. Another pamphlet, en- 
lem, ii. 41-45 ; 1 M. H. Coll. iii. 255 ; titled " The Rights of the Drama," 
Drake's Hist. Boston, 612, 631, 754, &c, was also published in the same 
804 ; Snow's Hist. Boston, 333. This year, by " Philo Dramatis." The first 
theatre stood at the corner of Federal play, by an American author, I have 
and Franklin Streets. It was burned met with, was called " Edwin and 
in 1798, and rebuilt in the same year. Angelina, or the Banditti, an Opera, 
The Haymarket Theatre was built in in three Acts," by E. H. Smith, of 
1796. A pamphlet entitled " Effects Connecticut, printed at New York, in 
of the Stage on the Manners of a 1796. Probably there were earlier 
People, and the Propriety of encour- plays. The views of the legislature 

Virtuous of Massachusetts on the subject of 




chap, abhorrence ; but the young of both sexes, in the country 
Sm j!j^ towns, would, at " husking parties," in spite of the frowns of 
1781. careful guardians, spend an hour or two in tripping to the 
music of the " fiddle and flute." * Nor was it possible to re- 
press in adventurous boys that love of sport which is as nat- 
ural as to breathe. Old-fashioned games, played in England 
before the settlement of this country, found their way across 
the waters, and still survive. Indeed, a very large number of 
the popular observances of the old world became incorporated 
with the customs of the new, far more than many would be 
apt to imagine ; and the antiquitates vulgares of New England 
so strikingly resemble those of Old England as to leave no 
doubt of their common origin. 2 

theatres, &c. , may be gathered from the 
report of a committee, Jan. 12, 1779, 
" that a bill ought to be brought in 
for suppressing theatrical entertain- 
ments, horse racing, gaming, and such 
other diversions as are productive of 
idleness, dissipation, and a general 
depravity of manners, agreeable to a 
resolve of Congress of October 12, 
1778, recommending the same." Mr. 
Phillips, of Boston, Mr. Sumner, and 
Judge Sullivan were appointed for 
that purpose, who reported a bill, 
February 10, which was read a sec- 
ond time February 11, and recom- 
mitted February 12. The proposi- 
tion for a theatre, in 1791, was op- 
posed, in Boston, by Samuel Ad- 
ams, Benjamin Austin, Jun., Thomas 
Dawes, Jun., and H. G. Otis, and 
supported by William Tudor, Charles 
Jarvis, Perez Morton, and others. 
Bradford, iii. 31. The "Boston Mu- 
seum " should not be forgotten, in this 
connection — the legitimate successor 
of the Columbian Museum, first es- 
tablished in 1791, of the New Eng- 
land Museum, in which this was 
merged, and of the Boston Museum, 
opened in 1804, and afterwards trans- 
ferred to the New England Museum. 
See Snow's Hist. Boston, 335, 336. 
1 " An address to Persons of Fash- 

ion, containing some particulars re- 
lating to Balls, and a few occasional 
hints concerning Play Houses, Card 
Tables, &c," was printed in Boston, 
in 1767. For further remarks on 
dancing, see Felt's Hist. Salem, i. 505, 
506. Concert Hall is said to have 
been erected in Boston in 1756, and 
is still standing at the corner of Court 
and Hanover Streets. This building 
was erected by Mr. Stephen Deblois, 
for the purposes of concerts, dancing, 
and other entertainments. 1 M. H. 
Coll. iii. 253; Snow's Hist. Boston, 

2 Whoever wishes to investigate 
tins curious subject would do well to 
consult Brand's Observations on Pop- 
ular Antiquities, and Strutt's and 
Aiken's Sports of Great Britain. The 
coral given to teething children ; the 
games of " blind man's buff," " see- 
saw," " hand ball," " hunt the slip- 
per," " tag," and a variety of others ; 
divinations with " apple parings," 
" lady bugs," the " true love knot," 
&c. ; the use of " pancakes " on "fast 
day ; " " bride favors " and " bride 
cakes ; " the superstitions on " spill- 
ing salt," " sneezing," " letters at the 
candle," the " death watch," &c. ; the 
observance of " April," or " all fools' 
day ; " many even of our funeral cus- 


With regard to dress, it is said that " gentlemen, m those chap. 
days, wore hats with broad brims, turned up into three cor- ^^, 
ners, with loops at the sides ; long coats, with large pocket 1781. 
folds and cuffs, and without collars. The buttons were com- 
monly plated, but sometimes of silver, often as large as a half 
dollar. Shirts had- bosom and wrist ruffles ; and all wore gold 
or silver shirt buttons at the wrist, united by a link. The 
waistcoat was long, with large pockets ; and the neckcloth, or 
scarf, was of fine white linen, or figured stuff, broidered, and 
the ends hung loosely upon the breast. The breeches were 
usually close, with silver buckles at the knee. The legs 
were covered with long gray stockings, which, on holidays, 
were exchanged for black or white silk. Boots with broad 
white tops, or shoes with straps and large silver buckles, com- 
pleted the equipment. • 

" Ladies wore caps, long, stiff stays, and high-heeled shoes. 
Their bonnets were of silk or satin, and usually black. Gowns 
were extremely long-waisted, with tight sleeves. Another 
fashion was, very short sleeves, with an immense frill at the 
elbow, leaving the rest of the arm naked. A large, flexible 
hoop, three or four feet in diameter, was, for some time, quilted 
into the hem of the gown, making an immense display of the 
lower person. A long, round cushion, stuffed with cotton or 
hair, and covered with black crape, was laid across the head, 
over which the hair was combed back and fastened. It was 
almost the universal custom, also, for women to wear gold 
beads — thirty-nine little hollow globes, about the size of a 

toms, as tolling the bell on the death giving day," borrowed from the " har- 
of a neighbor ; the use of black in vest supper ; " the custom of " drink- 
mourning ; strewing flowers over the ing healths," or " pledge, I'll pledge 
graves of friends, and decking their you ; " the " happy new year," the 
coffins with the same ; the " bonfires," " merry Christmas," et id omne genus, 
or " bonefires," so common in, re vo- were all derived from our English 
lutionary days ; the ringing of bells ancestors, with many more modern 
at nine o'clock, P. M., an imitation of customs, which have become quite 
the " curfew ; " the " weather cocks " fashionable. Comp. Felt's Hist. Sa- 
on church steeples ; our " thanks- lem, i. 362, 363. 



chap, pea, hung on a thread, and tied round the neck. Sometimes 
^^ this string would prove false to its trust, — at an assembly, 
1781. perhaps, — and then, 0, such a time to gather them up before 
they should be trampled on and ruined ! Working women 
wore petticoats and half gowns, drawn with a cord round the 
waist, and neat's leather shoes. 1 Women did not go a-shop- 
ping every day then ; there were few shops to go to, and 
those contained only such articles as were indispensable, and 
in very limited variety." 2 

Such is a crude and somewhat imperfect picture of Massa- 
chusetts as it was three fourths of a century ago. 3 Great 

1 The shoe manufacture was early- 
introduced into Lynn ; and it is said 
that, in 1794, 170,000 pah of men's 
shoes were made annually. Tanners 
and curriers were quite numerous, 
and large quantities of leather were 
manufactured by them. 1 M. H. 
Coll. iii. 282 ; Lewis's Lynn. 

2 Lewis's Lynn, 220, 221. 

3 A brief account of several socie- 
ties and institutions not specifically re- 
ferred to in the text, may be accept- 
able here. The Grand Lodge of Free 
and Accepted Masons in Massachu- 
setts was organized April 19, 1792, 
by a coalition of the iate St. John's 
and Massachusetts Grand Lodges. 
The names of the several lodges were 
the First and Second St. John's Lodg- 
es, Rising- Sun, St. Andrew's, Royal 
Arch, Rising States, Massachusetts, 
and the African, composed of blacks, 
or people of color. The institution 
of masonry is said to have originated 
in America in 1733, and on the 30th 
of July of that year the first lodge in 
Boston was held. The first Grand 
Master had power from Lord Mon- 
tague, Grand Master of England, to 
constitute lodges of Free and Ac- 
cepted Masons. The progress of 
masonry was for many years rapid ; 
a large number of the most respecta- 
ble citizens were connected with the 
lodges: and a spirit of union and 
brotherly love generally prevailed. 

Since the antimasonic excitement of 
a quarter of a century ago, masonry 
has revived, and is now flourishing 
with new vigor in all parts of the 
United States. The Massachusetts 
Historical Society was incorporated 
February 19, 1794, and its first pres- 
ident was James Sullivan, afterwards 
governor of Massachusetts. This so- 
ciety, the oldest for historical pur- 
poses in the United States, is now in 
the 64th year of its age, and its pros- 
pects were never more flattering than 
at present. Its invaluable collections 
number 32 vols., and contain a mass 
of important documents illustrating 
the early history of New England. 
Its library, with the addition of the 
recent munificent bequest of Thomas 
Dowse, Esq., of Cambridge, numbers 
at least 10,000 vols. ; its rooms, 
which are open to the public at all 
times, are fitted up neatly; and every 
possible facility, under the rules, is 
afforded to those who wish to avail 
themselves of the privilege of access 
to its treasures. The officers of the 
society have been among our most 
distinguished citizens ; and its efforts 
to preserve the fading memorials of 
the past will ever entitle it to a grate- 
ful remembrance. The Lish Chari- 
table Society was instituted in 1737 ; 
the Massachusetts Marine Society in 
1754 ; the Massachusetts Charitable 
Society in 1779; the Medical So- 





changes have since been made ; but of these due notice will chap. 
be taken hereafter. There is a disposition in all to look back 
to the past, and invest it with the garb of fiction and romance. 
Its manners are portrayed as of artless simplicity ; its customs 
are described as peculiarly pleasing. Thus has it been from 
the time of Solomon, whose advice is, " Say not thou, What is 
the cause that the former days were better than these ? for thou 
dost not inquire wisely concerning this." It is no mark of Eccl.7: 
wisdom to underrate the present ; and it should be the aim of 
those who wish to form just views to look at the world, not 
from the deceptive position with which the imagination is ever 
inclined to invest the past, but from that broader standpoint 
which looks at man, not as a beast of burden alone, having a 
body to feed and a back to clothe, but as an intellectual and a 
moral being, capable of unlimited advancement in the exalted 
career which God has marked out for him, and of making con- 
tinued improvements tending not only to increase his physical 
comforts, but to open the way for nobler pursuits and purer 
joys, in the expansion of the intellect and the culture of the 

ciety in 1781 ; the Society of the 
Cincinnati in 1783 ; the Boston Epis- 
copal Charitable Society in 1784 ; 
the Humane Society in 1785 ; the 
Scotch Charitable Society in 1786 ; 
the Massachusetts Congregational 
Society in 1787 ; the Society for 
Propagating the Gospel among the 
Indians and others in North America, 
in 1787 -, the Massachusetts Agricul- 

tural Society in 1792 ; the Boston 
Library Society in 1794 ; and the 
Massachusetts Charitable Fire Socie- 
ty in 1794. Most of these societies 
are still in existence. See Mass. Laws 
for 1789, 1794, 1795; 1 M. H. Coll. 
hi. 273-275; Snow's Hist. Boston; 
Drake's Hist. Boston ; Hurd's Hist. 
St. Andrew's Lodge, and the publica- 
tions of the different societies. 



Six years after the inauguration of the new government, 
and three years from the settlement of the preliminaries of 

1786. peace, civil disturbances broke out in Massachusetts, which 
threatened for a time the utter subversion of law and order, 
and which were quieted only by the firmness of the chief 
magistrate and the hearty cooperation of the friends of free- 
dom. The history of these disturbances tends to show that, 
in popular tumults, reason is often dethroned, and that the 
passions of the multitude, when highly exasperated, overleap 
the barriers of outward restraint, and riot in suicidal and hid- 
eous excesses. The vast expenses incurred during the war ; 
the depreciation of the currency, which had long been increas- 
ing ; the heavy taxation to which all classes had been subject- 
ed ; the extent of public and private indebtedness ; and the 
legal efforts made for the collection of claims, 1 were the pre- 
disposing causes of the outbreak referred to ; and the spirit 
of discord, feeble in its beginnings, was nurtured by dema- 
gogues, until it ripened into a sturdy and disgraceful rebellion. 

1781. So early as 1781, conventions of delegates from different 
towns began to be held in the sparsely settled western coun- 
ties, to consult upon public grievances, and seek their redress. 
" Persons inimical to American independence " are said to 

1 In 1784, more than 2000 actions 1700. Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 131 ; 
were entered in the county of Wor- Ward's Shrewsbury, 91. See also 
cester alone ; and in 1785, about Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S., 31. 



have been the instigators and abettors of these movements — chap. 
secret foes of the liberties of their country, whose object it ^J^, 
was to weaken the government, and spread abroad anarchy 1782. 
and confusion in the state. 1 But a more charitable construc- 
tion of their motives and conduct might induce the opinion 
that the hardships incident to all new settlements, and the 
extraordinary embarrassments under which they were labor- 
ing, had created an unusual restlessness and jealousy, and 
awakened suspicions that an unequal share of the expenses of 
the war would be assessed upon them in their poverty, and 
that the claims of their creditors would be pressed beyond 
reasonable bounds while they were unable to meet their 

If, however, an apology of this kind may be pleaded with 
justice for a portion of the disaffected, for others no valid 
excuse can be offered. Among the latter was Samuel Ely, a 
disappointed clergyman, lacking in judgment as well as in 
principle, who had been compelled to relinquish the functions 
of the ministry, and who abounded in hypocritical professions 
of piety. 2 This man assumed to be the ringleader of the 
malcontents ; and, through his misrepresentations, a large 
number of citizens were persuaded to league with him to ob- 
struct the regular course of justice. 

Their first attempt was made at Northampton ; and for his April, 
connection with this affair, Ely was arrested and lodged in 
jail. A rescue was attempted by his misguided followers, 
which proved successful ; but three of the rioters were seized 
and imprisoned. 3 A mob next gathered for their release, who 

1 Address to the People, 1786, fications. Bradford, ii. 211; Hol- 
4; Bradford, ii. 203 5 Holland's land's Western Mass. i. 230, 231. 
Western Mass. i. 230. 3 These were Capt. Dinsmore, 

2 He had been settled for some Lieut. Paul King, and Lieut. P. 
years in Somers, Conn., but was dis- Bardwell. Holland's Western Mass. 
missed by a council, who pronounced i. 231. For an account of the Con- 
him unfit for his calling, on account vention at Worcester, April 14, 1782, 
of his literary and moral disquali- see Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 132. 


chap, assembled in Hatfield to the number of three hundred. The 
militia, to the number of twelve hundred, were called out for 
the protection of the jail ; but General Porter, who com- 
manded this force, unwisely yielded to the demands of the 
rioters, and the prisoners were released on their parole of 
honor — agreeing to deliver up the body of Ely to the sheriff, 
or, in default thereof, their own bodies, on the order of the 
General Court. 1 This conduct of General Porter was cen- 
sured by the prudent ; and it admits of little doubt that the 
Nov. leniency of the Court in pardoning the rioters, which they did 
shortly after, was the proximate cause of the difficulties which 
followed, by emboldening the lawless to place upon that le- 
niency the construction of weakness, which it seemed to war- 
rant. 2 Clemency is, indeed, the best policy in a free govern- 
ment ; and though it does not invariably follow that " the 
certainty of punishment is the truest security against crimes,''* 3 
there are cases in which decision and energy are imperatively 
demanded. Unfortunately for the community, however, there 
were some who feared that the grounds of complaint would 
be increased by asserting too strictly the supremacy of the 
laws ; and a difference of opinion existed even in the legis- 
lature relative to the measures it would be safest to adopt. 
There was, likewise, a feeling that the taxes were indeed 
heavy, and that it was difficult for many in the rural districts, 
whose resources were limited, and who had little to spare, to 
meet the demands made upon their purses. Hence it was 
thought best to satisfy the citizens, if possible, that their rulers 
were disposed to afford them relief; and the legislature 
ordered the treasurer of the commonwealth to suspend for a 
time the executions against collectors. 4 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, ture of" Lucius Junius Brutus," in the 
16 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 232. Independent Chronicle for Oct. 12, 

2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 1786, and Works, p. 3, ed. 1809. 
17 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 232. 4 Bradford, ii. 212, 257. 

3 Fisher Ames, under the signa- 


This, however, was but a temporal check ; for, the very chap. 
next year, a mob assembled in the town of Springfield, to ^J^ 
prevent the sessions of the County Court, and, after carousing 1783. 
at a neighboring tavern, and resolving themselves into a gen- 
eral convention, adjourned to an elm tree near the court house, 
armed with bludgeons. 1 The bell rang for the assembling of 
the court ; but when the judges appeared, headed by the sher- 
iff, they were opposed as they endeavored to enter the build- 
ing. The sheriff remonstrated, but without effect ; and it was 
only by the intervention of the friends of order that the riot- 
ers were repulsed. 2 

The convention at Deerfield, in the fall of this year, was a Sep. 29. 
more peaceful gathering. Delegates from seven of the towns 
assembled, to " take into consideration the deplorable state of 
the county and commonwealth ; " and, professing apprehen- 
sions of a general bankruptcy, but without presuming to show 
how it might be prevented, they demanded relief by a division 
of the county, or the removal of the courts from Springfield 
to Northampton. There were others, however, entitled to be 
heard on these points ; and at a subsequent convention, held Oct. 20 
in Hatfield, represented by delegates from twenty-seven towns, 
the subject of the state and national debts was discussed, and, 
while the people of the county were recommended to acquire 
by honest • industry the requisite money for the payment of 
their debts, the opinion was expressed that it would be impos- 
sible to do so while the claims of the government were so 
imperious, and the demands for an immediate revenue so 
urgent. 3 

1 Holland's Western Mass. i. 232. majority ; but no judicial proceedings 
No Probate Courts had been held in were had until 1780. Hist Berk- 
Berkshire from 1774 to 1778 ; from shire, 125, 126 ; Holland's Western 
1776 to 1778, no deeds were record- Mass. i. 243. 

ed ; and in the last-named year the 2 Holland's Western Mass. i. 232. 

towns, by a large majority, negatived Several of the most' forward were 

a proposition for the reopening of the seized, and afterwards examined and 

Courts of Common Pleas and of bound over for trial. 
Quarter Sessions, In 1779, however, 3 Holland's Western Mass. i. 233. 
this decision was reversed by a small 


chap. Such was the posture of affairs at the close of the revolu- 
^J^, tion. The private debt of the state amounted to the consid- 
1783. erable sum of one million three hundred thousand pounds, 
besides two hundred and fifty thousand pounds due to officers 
and soldiers in the army ; and the proportion of the national 
debt amounted to the further sum of a million and a half of 
pounds. 1 The interest on these debts, which was to be paid 
in specie, was by no means small ; and when it is considered 
that the credit of the state was pledged for their cancelment, 
that the ordinary expenses of government were to be met, and 
that each family had its private debts and expenses, while 
towns were embarrassed by advances to the soldiers, the mar- 
kets for produce were closed or lessened, and the various 
branches of industry were cramped, it will be perceived that 
the questions, how these difficulties could be successfully sur- 
mounted, and how these claims could be satisfactorily adjust- 
• ed, were difficult to answer, especially for men who were 
inexperienced in the management of financial affairs, except 
on a limited scale, and who were but slightly acquainted with 
political economy. It is not surprising, therefore, that the 
timid should have been seized with trembling and dismay, and 
that the wisest should have been filled with anxious solici- 
tude. It was a state of affairs which no one had anticipated, 
the product of circumstances over which the people had little 
control. And to punish them because they were reduced to 
such straits, or because their views were crude and impracti- 
cable, it was thought, would only aggravate the public distress, 
and strengthen the spirit of discontent. 

Besides these, however, there were other causes of com- 

Jui 82 3 P laint - Tne "tender act" of 1782, passed for the benefit of 

private debtors, and which made neat cattle and other articles 

1 Address to the People, 1786, 5- em Mass. i. 233 ; Curtis's Hist, of 
17 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- the Const, i. 266, 267. 
tion; Bradford, ii. ; Holland's West- 


a legal tender for debts, by its retrospective operation served chap. 
only to suspend lawsuits for the space of a twelvemonth ; and, ^^ 
as it was obnoxious to constitutional as well as to equitable 1782. 
objections, in the end it increased the evil it was designed to 
obviate, and was the first signal for hostilities between the 
rich and the poor, the few and the many. 1 The "pay act " of 
the same year, passed by Congress, commuting the half pay Mar. 22. 
promised to officers for life to full pay for five years, was also 
censured ; and objections were made to it on the ground that 
the discrimination was unjust, and the officers were to be paid 
" at the expense of the sufferings of their fellow-citizens." 2 
The costs in civil suits had likewise increased; and it was 
claimed that the lawyers, who had greatly multiplied, had an 
undue influence, and were growing rich at the expense of 
their clients. 3 Some even objected to the Courts of Common 
Pleas as an unnecessary burden. The prevalence of luxury, 
consequent upon habits acquired in war, and the importation 
of British goods, for which specie was paid, were also cen- 
sured as a check upon home manufactures, and the encourage- 
ment of extravagance, which could benefit only the merchant, 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, service. It was a part of their hire. 
15 ; Bradford, ii. ; Curtis's Hist, of I may be allowed to say, it was the 
the Const, i. 268; Holland's West- price of their blood, and of your in- 
ern Mass. i. 234. dependency ; it is, therefore, more 

2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, than a common debt — it is a debt of 
18, 27 ; Bradford, ii. 219, 225 ; Aus- honor; it can never be considered as 
tin's Life of Gerry, i. 395-398 ; Hoi- a pension or gratuity, nor be cancelled 
land's Western Mass. i. 234. Comp. until it is fairly discharged." 

the Boston Gazette for Oct. 20, 1783, 3 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 

and Writings of Washington, viii. 448, 29 ; Bradford, ii. 258 ; Jackson's Hist. 

551-566. " As to the idea," says the Newton, 208, 209 ; Abbot's Andover, 

latter, " that the half pay and com- 64, 65. The papers of " Honestus," 

mutation are to be regarded merely published in the papers of the day, 

in the light of an odious pension, it were the principal instruments in 

ought to be exploded forever. That directing jealousy towards the judicial 

provision should be viewed, as it really tribunals, and the anathemas thun- 

was, a reasonable compensation of- dered against lawyers led to their 

fered by Congress at a time when they exclusion, by the popular voice, from 

had nothing else to give the officers the House and the Senate. Lincoln's 

of the army" for services then to be Worcester, 131; Ward's Shrewsbury, 

performed. It was the only means 91 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 236. 
to prevent a total dereliction of the 


chap, while it impoverished the artisan. 1 Objections were likewise 
^_^_ made to the constitution of the state ; and the Senate was 
1782. declared to be superfluous, or worse. 2 

Without doubt, the excitement created by this levelling 
spirit was confined, at first, chiefly to those who were ignorant 
of the principles of civil government, and to demagogues, who 
endeavored to persuade the people that they had a right, even 
in irregular conventions and by force, to throw off the re- 
straints of burdensome laws. A majority of the citizens, — 
at least, of the intelligent, — it should seem, were too well 
informed and too patriotic to resist the operation of necessary 
laws ; but when the infatuated resorted to arms, and refused 
to pay the price of their privileges, nothiug but vigilance could 
oppose their fury, and quell the tumult created by their mis- 
conduct. 3 

The machinery resorted to by the seditious to accomplish 
their ends was artfully calculated to impose upon the weak. 
It was contended that the right to assemble in conventions to 
consult upon the common good was recognized distinctly in 
the constitution itself; and, construing this right with the 
utmost latitude, and forgetting the restrictions which good 
sense imposes, and that the sovereignty which had been dele- 
gated by the whole people could not be resumed at the option 
of a part, advantage was taken of the present opportunity to 
inflame the passions and prejudices of the dissatisfied, by 
holding irregular and tumultuous gatherings. At first, indeed, 
the conventions were respectable, and disclaimed all connec- 
tion with mobs ; but the mob, in a short time, acquired the 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, lions; leaving a balance of 21 mil- 

10, 12 ; Bradford, ii. 234 ; Hildreth's lions against the U. States. Comp. 

U. S. iii. 466. Comp. also Franklin's Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S. 30, ed. 

Works, viii. 327. The imports from 1835. 

Great Britain, in 1784 and 1785, 2 Bradford, ii. 258. 

amounted, in value, to 30 millions 3 Bradford, ii. 259; Butler's Groton 

of dollars, while the exports to the and Shirley, 132. 
same country did not exceed 9 mil- 


ascendency, and the conventions became the abettors of vio- chap. 
lence. In this state of things, as the conventions increased, ^^ 
the evils resulting from them likewise increased ; the respecta- 1786. 
ble were mixed up and incorporated with the mob ; and at 
length they stood on even ground, and acted together to over- 
awe others. 1 

The first symptoms of the rising storm appeared at the con- 
vention in the county of Worcester. This convention, which Aug.15, 
met at Leicester, was composed of delegates from thirty-seven 
towns, who voted, at the outset, that the body was " lawful 
and constitutional," and then proceeded to discuss the causes 
of the public discontent. These, as enumerated in their pub- 
lished memorial, were, " 1. The sitting of the General Court 
in Boston ; 2. The want of a circulating medium ; 3. The 
abuses in the practice of the law, and the exorbitance of the 
fee table ; 4. The existence of the Courts of Common Pleas 
in their present mode of administration ; 5. The appropriat- 
ing the revenues arising from the impost and excise to the 
payment of the interest of the state securities ; 6. The unrea- 
sonable and unnecessary grants made by the General Court to 
the attorney general and others ; 1. The servants of the gov- 
ernment being too numerous, and having too great salaries ; 
and, 8. This commonwealth granting aid or paying moneys to 
Congress, while our public accounts remain unsettled." 2 

The tendency of such measures, it was seen by the discern- 
ing, would be to distract the public councils, and foster the 
evils it was desired to redress. For, out of the convention, 
there were not wanting many who viewed things in a different 
light, and who insisted with equal confidence that the evils 

1 Bradford, ii. 260 ; Holland's were present. The insurrection in 
Western Mass. i. 235. N. Hampshire was contemporaneous 

2 Lincoln's Hist. Worcester, 133, with that in Massachusetts, and origi- 
134 ; Ward's Shrewsbury, 94 ; Hoi- nated from similar causes. An ac- 
land's Western Mass. i. 236. A count of the same is given in the 
previous meeting was held in May, Worcester Mag. for Sept. 1786, and 
at which delegates from but 17 towns in Barstow's Hist, of N. H. 

VOL. III. 15 


chap, complained of were mostly imaginary, and that the real cause 

^J^_ of the public distress must be attributed to the luxurious hab- 
1786. its of the people and the large consumption of British fabrics, 
the dangers of which could not well be over-estimated. 1 Hence 
the discussion in the papers took a wide range ; and the pro- 
ceedings of the remonstrants were not only satirized, but the 
knavery of their leaders was freely exposed. 2 

Aug.22. The convention at Worcester was followed, a week later, 
by another at Hatfield, in the county of Hampshire, of dele- 
gates from fifty towns, which continued in session three days. 
The list of grievances put forth by this body was swollen to 
a catalogue of seventeen articles ; among which were, the 
existence of the Senate, the mode of representation, the inde- 
pendence of officers on the people for their salaries, the embar- 
rassments of the press, and the neglect of the settlement of 
important matters between the commonwealth and Congress 
relative to moneys and averages. 3 The passage of such reso- 
lutions, as may well be supposed, was exactly calculated to 
encourage the lawless ; and, four days after the rising of the 

Aug. 29. convention, a mob of several hundreds, 4 some of them armed 
with guns and swords, and others with bludgeons, assembled 
in Northampton, at the time appointed for the sitting of the 

1 "JYuper divitia avaritiam," says be viewed with abhorrence and dis- 
Livy, " et abundantis voluntatis de- gust Comp. Hildreth's U. S. iii. 
sidei'ium, per luxum atque libidinem 466, 467. 

pereundi, perdendique omnia invi- 3 Worcester Mag. No. 25, for Sept. 

dere." 1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Lisurrec- 

2 See the MS. Letter of Gen. Lin- tion, 34-37 ; Bradford, h. 260-262 ; 
coin to Gen. Washington, 66, 67 ; and Holland's Western Mass. i. 237, 238. 
compare Holland's Western Mass. For an account of the convention in 
i. 236, 237. Without doubt the con- Middlesex, held in Concord, Aug. 
duct of speculators, who availed them- 23, see Shattuck's Hist. Concord, 130. 
selves of the necessities of others to Ten articles of grievance were adopted 
purchase, at a great discount, vast by this convention, and an address to 
quantities of paper money, and who the public was ordered and published, 
were disposed to press their claims to 4 The newspapers of the day esti- 
the utmost, was a grievance felt deep- mated their number at 400 or 500; but 
ly by the subjects of then operations; Minot, Hist, of the Lisurrection, 39, 
and their measures, not always of the and Bradford, ii. 263, estimate their 
most honorable kind, could not but number to have been nearly 1500. 


Court of Common Pleas, fully determined to prevent its ses- chap. 
sions, and to suspend the regular processes of law. Tidings ^J^, 
of this outbreak were forwarded to Boston ; and a proclama- 1786. 
tion was issued by Governor Bowdoin forbidding all assem- 
blies of the people for unlawful purposes, and calling upon the 
officers of the government, civil and judicial, and the citizens 
generally, to aid in suppressing such treasonable proceedings, 
and in restoring the community to its usual tranquillity. 1 

This proclamation, however, had but little effect, though the 
newspapers of the neighborhood, and the clergy to a man 
nearly, sided with the government in opposing sedition. The 
flame, which wastburning in Worcester and Hampshire, spread 
into other counties. In Middlesex, Bristol, and Berkshire, 
conventions were held and votes were passed ; and the tumult 
was so threatening that, in the apprehension of many, the 
safety of the state was endangered. 2 

The success of the insurgents in the county of Hampshire 
emboldened their associates in the county of Worcester ; and sept. 5. 
the sessions of the court were prevented by a mob of two 
hundred persons, who posted themselves around the court 
house, with bayonets fixed, and debarred the entrance of the 
judges. General Ward, the chief justice, remonstrated with 
them on the madness of their conduct, and, in a speech of two 
hours' length, warned them of the consequences which must 
inevitably ensue ; but they were equally deaf to remonstrance 
and warning, and no alternative was left but to adjourn. 3 

1 Worcester Mag. No. 23, for Sept. Western Mass. i. 242 ; Hist. Berk- 
1786 ; Miiiot's Hist, of the Insurrec- shire, 127 ; Lincoln's Worcester, 135 ; 
tion, 39; Bradford, ii. 263; Hoi- Ward's Shrewsbury; 95-99. The 
land's Western Mass. i. 240. mob at Worcester' was under the 

2 The Worcester Magazine con- command of Captain Adam Wheeler, 
tained many articles on the disturb- of Hubbardston, and his lieutenant 
ances. See also Minot's Hist, of the was Benjamin Converse, of Hard- 
Insurrection, 39 ; Holland's Western wick ; but Captain Wheeler, when 
Mass. i. 241. charged with being then- leader, dis- 

3 Worcester Mag. No. 23, for Sept. claimed both the office and the re- 
1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- sponsibility. Only 100 of the men had 
tion, 39; Bradford, ii. 263 ; Holland's guns; the" rest carried bludgeons. 


The next attempt was at Concord, in the county of Middle- 
sex. The insurgents at this place, about one hundred in 
1786. number, were chiefly from Groton and its immediate neighbor- 
' hood, and were under the command of Captains Job Shattuck, 
of Groton, and Nathan and Sylvanus Smith, of Shirley. 1 The 
first night they lodged in the court house, and in barns, or 
such other shelter as could best be obtained ; and on the fol- 

Sep. 13. lowing day they took possession of the grounds in front of 
the court house, and marked out their lines. Here they were 
joined by a party from Worcester, about ninety strong, under 
Wheeler, of Hubbardston, and Converse, of Hard wick ; so 
that the whole body numbered about two hundred. But the 
citizens of Concord had not been idle • and not only did they, 

Sept. 9. at a special meeting, " seriously and deliberately " discuss the 
measures which had been adopted in other counties, but de- 
clared their " utter disapprobation of such disorderly proceed- 
ings." 2 The governor, likewise, apprehending disturbances, 

Sept. 8. had ordered the artillery companies of Eoxbury and Dorches- 
ter to hold themselves in readiness to march to Concord, under 
the command of General Brooks, with such other companies 
from the county of Suffolk as the exigencies might require ; 3 
but these orders were countermanded, in consequence of the 
spirited conduct of the town. 

The appearance of the mob, in less troublesome times, would 
have excited the derision of every beholder. As a general 
thing, they " looked wretchedly ; " their muskets were thor- 
oughly drenched with rain; and the "rank-scented many" 
were redolent of rum, which they had poured down in large 
quantities to keep up their courage. But, while they were 
swaggering and vaporing in the streets, trolling catches of 

1 Worcester Mag. No. 25, for Sept. 2 Worcester Mag. No. 24, for Sept 

1786; Butler's Hist, of Groton and 1786; Shattuck's Concord, 131. 
Shirley ; Shattuck's Concord, 134. A 3 Worcester Mag. No. 24, for Sept. 

majority of the legal voters of Groton 1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- 

are said to have concurred in resist- tion, 42; Shattuck's Concord, 131. 
ing the government. 


popular songs, and making the air unwholesome with their chap. 
breath, the more sober citizens, after joining in prayer, ap- ^J^L, 
pointed a committee to confer with their leaders, and another 1786. 
to confer with the justices of the courts. The reply of Shat- 
tuck was at first quite insolent ; and he declared that the 
courts should not sit until the grievances of the people were 
suitably redressed ; but, two hours later, he altered his tone, 
and consented that the Court of Sessions might open, and ad- 
journ to the last Tuesday in November, without entering the 
court house. 1 Smith, however, was much more refractory ; 
and, " splitting the air with noise/ 7 he beat round for volun- 
teers, declaring that any one who refused to join his standard 
and follow his drum should be " drove out of town at the point 
of the bayonet." " I will lay down my life," said he, " to sup- 
press the government from all triannical oppression ; and you, 
who are willing to join us in this here affair, may fall into our 
ranks." 2 This illiterate philippic, with its accompanying pro- 
fanity, was offensive even to his own party ; and the more 
respectable were' heartily ashamed of the cause they had 
espoused. The judges, in the mean time, deeming it useless 
to proceed to business, decided, after consultation, to suspend 
their sessions ; and, at a late hour in the afternoon, they left 
the town, and the insurgents dispersed. 3 

The disturbance at Taunton, in the county of Bristol, was 
quelled by the exertions of General Cobb, the chief justice of 
the Court of Common Pleas, and a military officer of undaunt- 
ed courage. Discretionary orders had been given by the gov- 
ernor to call out the militia in case of necessity ; but, in the 
absence of the Council, which was not then in session, no pos- 
itive instructions could be issued by his excellency. General 
Cobb, therefore, who had reason to apprehend that violence 

1 Shattuck's Concord, 135. 1786 ; Shattuck's Concord, 135, 136 ; 

a Shattuck's Concord, 135. Butler's Groton and Shirley, 133. 

8 Worcester Mag. No. 25, for Sept. 


chap, would be attempted, assumed the responsibility of ordering 
^J^^ several companies to appear, at Taunton, on the morning of 
1786. the day the court was to meet, and took possession of the 
court house " with a field piece and thirty gentlemen volun- 
Sep. 12. teers." By this seasonable precaution the insurgents were 
intimidated ; and, although they appeared in considerable 
numbers, they were assured by the chief justice that he would 
" sit as a judge or die as a general ; " and, knowing from his 
character that he would be as good as his word, the malcon- 
tents separated without preventing the sitting of the court. 
Yet it was deemed advisable, here as elsewhere, to adjourn 
the sessions to a future day. 1 

In the county of Berkshire, the insurgents were equally 
Aug. active. 2 The convention at Lenox, held soon after the con- 
vention at Hatfield, was composed as well of the friends of 
government as of the disaffected ; and their proceedings, at 
first, were temperate and judicious, though the general rage 
for reformation was displayed. Some of the acts of the ad- 
ministration were condemned ; but, in general, a respectful 
regard for authority was observed, and the members in the 

1 Worcester Mag. No. 25, for Sept. bringing of personal actions for tres- 
1786; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- passes against property in said county, 
tion, 44; Bradford, ii. 265,266; Mar- which may have been committed in 
shall's Washington, x. 112, note. consequence of the order, resolve, or 

2 Disturbances in Berkshire seem vote, either of any legal town meeting, 
to have commenced at a quite early selectmen, or committee of inspection, 
date; for in February, 1779, the re- correspondence, &c, unless leave shall 
port of a committee of the General be first had and obtained of the Gen- 
Court was presented relative to these eral Court. And that it is necessary 
matters, " that they have heard the for the peace and good order of the 
members of the General Court who county of Berkshire, that there should 
belong to the county of Berkshire be justices of the Inferior Court of 
upon the subject, and are of opinion Common Pleas there appointed, and 
that it is necessary to pass an act of justices for the Court of General Ses- 
pardon and indemnification to all sions of the Peace, and that they be 
riots, routs, and all assaults, batteries, directed to hold their respective courts 
false imprisonments, and trespasses as by law appointed ; and further, that 
against the person of a subject, com- there be an act passed for holding a 
mitted and done within the county of Superior Court of Judicature in said 
Berkshire before the passing such act ; county annually, which is submitted." 
and also for suspending the right of Jour. House of Rep. for Feb. 6, 1779. 


most solemn manner pledged themselves, as a body, to use chap. 
their influence to support the courts in the exercise of their s- J^ w 
legal powers, and to quiet the agitated spirits of the people. 1 1786. 
But the insurgents were not satisfied with this ; and, at the 
opening of the Court of Common Pleas at Great Barrington, 
a mob, consisting of about eight hundred persons, abused the 
judges, succeeded in preventing the sessions of the court, and 
broke open the jail and liberated the prisoners. 2 

The excitement was now general. In some parts, indeed, 
the people were quiet ; and in Boston, in particular, an address 
was prepared, and sent to the governor, declaring in the most Sep. 11. 
explicit terms their unvaried determination to cooperate in 
support of constitutional government. A circular letter was 
also sent abroad, addressed to the inhabitants of every town, 
reciting the dangers which had been mutual during the war, 
and contrasting the state of the country at present with what 
it would have been had their enemies conquered. The pledges 
which had been made in defence of their liberties were also 
alluded to ; and they conjured their brethren in the most feel- 
ing manner not to gratify the malice of their common enemies 
in seeking a redress of supposed grievances by other means 
than those which their social compact had amply provided. 3 

The address to the governor was favorably received, and 
as favorably answered ; and the replies to the circular ad- Sep. 13. 
dressed to the towns, though varying in character, were 
accordant in spirit, and evinced a pleasing union of sentiment 
and a readiness to aid in upholding the laws. 4 But the 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, the addresses were prepared by him 
44; Holland's Hist. Western Mass. and by James Sullivan, Dr. Charles 
i. 244. Jarvis, Stephen Higginson, Edward 

2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, Paine, Jonathan Jackson, and Jona- 
45 ; Holland's Hist. Western Mass. than L. Austin, who were appointed 
i. 244; Hist. Berkshire, 127, 128. for that purpose. 

3 Worcester Mag. No. 25, for Sept. 4 The answer of the town of Rox- 
1786; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- bury is given in the Worcester Mag- 
tion, 46. Samuel Adams was mod- azine, No. 27, for Oct. 1786. 

erator of the meeting in Boston ; and 


chap, action of the government itself was called for, to render 

^J3^ effective the wishes of the prudent ; and, as the General Court 
1786. had been adjourned from the eighth of July to the last of the 
following January, it was deemed advisable to convene it at 
an earlier date, and a proclamation was issued for calling it 
together on the eighteenth of October ; but the pressure of 
circumstances required that a still earlier date should be fixed, 

Sep. 27. and the twenty-seventh of September was assigned by the 
governor. 1 In the midst of this business fresh difficulties 
arose. Hitherto the outbreaks had been confined almost 
entirely to the sessions of the Courts of Common Pleas and 
the Courts of General Sessions of the Peace. The Supreme 
Judicial Courts had not been molested. But these courts, it 
was weirknown, were properly cognizant of acts of rebellion ; 
and, though it was treasonable to disturb them, as it was 
feared by the insurgents that indictments might be presented 
against the more froward, it was determined, if possible, to 
prevent their sessions. The sessions at Springfield were to be 

Sep. 26. holden in September ; and the insurgents prepared to obstruct 
their proceedings. To defeat their designs, and at the same 
time to preserve order, a body of six or eight hundred of the 
militia, under General Shepard, of Westfield, was detached to 
the court house, to hold possession of it against all intruders. 2 
On the appointed day, the troops were posted, and the jus- 
tices assembled, prepared to attend to the duties of their office ; 
but the insurgents appeared in equal, if not superior, numbers, 
under the leadership of Daniel Shays, formerly a captain in 
the army of the revolution, who had resigned his commission 
from causes not known, and who was the principal personage, 

1 Worcester Mag. No. 25, for Sept. Western Mass. i. 245 ; History of 
1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- Berkshire, 128. From the state- 
tion, 33, 47 ; Bradford, ii. 257, 267. merits of Holland it appears that only 

2 Worcester Mag. No. 28, for Oct. about 300 of the militia were mus- 
1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- tered at the opening of the court, 
tion, 48 ; Bradford, ii. 264 ; Holland's 


or at least the most prominent, in opposing the government chap. 
and resisting its authority. The character of Shays was ^J^, 
marked- by no qualities which entitled him to distinction, nor 1786. 
was he eminent for courtesy, talent, or principle. Brave 
though he may have been while in a good cause, he had not 
the courage which shrinks from dishonorable acts • bankrupt 
in fortune as well as in virtue, he was ready to " embark on 
the flood of any desperate adventure/ 7 in the hope of improv- 
ing his outward condition ; and, destitute of qualifications for 
high military command, there were others who were leagued 
with him far more competent and formidable than himself. 1 

Luke Day, of West Springfield, was, without doubt, the 
master spirit of the insurrection ; the precedence of Shays was 
the result of mere accident. Day had served as a captain in 
the revolution, and returned home poor, but with honor, and 
a major by brevet. Unfortunately, however, for himself and 
for his country, the cacoetkes loquendi had taken possession of 
him ; and, as a good declaimer, his bar-room harangues were 
frequent and fervent. The meetings of the malcontents had 
been held for some time at a noted tavern in his native town 
rejoicing in the cognomen of " the Old Stebbins Tavern ; " and 
there he was accustomed to spend his evenings, in the company 
of his " fellow-sufferers," who were inspired by his eloquence 
to imagine themselves " of all men most miserable." As his 
popularity increased, his converts multiplied, and they were 
drilled by him daily on the West Springfield Common. Their 
arms, at first, were hickory clubs, and their hats were adorned 
with sprigs of hemlock ; but, as the hour of action approached, 
those who could afford it provided themselves with muskets. 
Applied to a good cause, the talents of Day might have been 
of some service ; but in his present position, he was entirely 
mistaken in supposing that the applause of vulgar minds — 

1 On the character of Shays, see Shrewsbury, 115-117 ; Holland' 
Lincoln's Worcester, 369 ; Ward's Western Mass. i. 290-295. 


chap, the " tongues o' the common mouth " — was an evidence of his 

^^^ genius, or could insure his success. 1 
1786. The conduct of the insurgents was exceedingly insolent ; 
and their first demand was, that the judges should pledge 
themselves not to indict any of the late rioters. The reply 
of the judges was firm and dignified ; they should execute 
the laws agreeably to their oath. In the confusion which 
ensued, however, but little could be done ; and, on the third 

Sep. 28. day of their sitting, the court adjourned, after resolving that 
it was inexpedient to proceed to Berkshire. Thus the turbu- 
lent were left in possession of. the field ; and, as they continued 
their threats, there were serious apprehensions of an attack 
upon the militia. But the prudence of Shepard prevented the 

Sep. 29. conflict ; and, on the following day, the insurgents departed, 
leaving the town in considerable confusion. 2 

Sep. 28. The speech of the governor at the opening of the legislature 
contained a review of these transactions, a declaration of the 
danger of such proceedings, and the want of justification on 
the part of the insurgents, even if their grievances were admit- 
ted to be real. The necessity of efficient measures to support 
the government and restore tranquillity was also adverted to ; 
and the hope was expressed that the representatives of the 
people, who were authorized to act for them, would extend all 
suitable forbearance and relief, according as the condition of 
the state would admit. 3 

The Senate concurred with the governor in these views ; 
but in the House a difference of opinion prevailed, and some 
of the members secretly, if not openly, sympathized with the 
insurgents, and wished them success. 4 Unanimity, therefore, 

1 On the character of Day, see 1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- 
Holland's Western Mass. i. 244, 245. tion, 5 1 ; Bradford, ii. 267 ; Holland's 

2 Worcester Mag. No. 28, for Oct. Western Mass. i. 248. Compare 
1786; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- Sparks's Washington, ix. 204. 

tion, 49 ; Bradford, ii. 264 ; Holland's 4 " General Knox," wrote Lee to 

Western Mass. i. 245-248. Washington, " has just returned ; and 

3 Worcester Mag. No. 28, for Oct. his report, grounded on his own 



was with difficulty secured ; and, though the joint committee chap. 
censured the proceedings against the judicial courts, and re- ^J^, 
ported an approval of his excellency's conduct in raising the 1786. 
militia, and a promise to defray the expenses incurred, with a 
provision for the suspension for a limited period of the privi- 
leges of the writ of Habeas Corpus, a determination was at 
the same time expressed to examine into and redress existing 
grievances, and relieve the people of oppressive burdens. 1 The 
discussions which ensued were continued for weeks ; and the 
conventions, emboldened by the countenance of others, poured 
in petitions, urging pathetically the necessity for redress, and, 
in some cases, praying that a general convention of the people 
might be called, to unite in consistent and explicit petitions, 
and that the sense of the towns might be taken on the expe- 
diency of revising the constitution. 2 

The decision which was finally reached was, happily, favora- 
ble. A law against riots and unlawful assemblies was passed ; 3 Oct. 28. 
the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus was suspended 
for eight months ; an act was completed for the payment of 
back taxes in specified articles at fixed rates ; a plan was 

knowledge, is replete with melan- 
choly information. A maj ority of the 
people of Massachusetts are in oppo- 
sition to the government. Some of 
the leaders avow the subversion of it 
to be their object, together with the 
abolition of debts, the division of 
property, and a reunion with Great 
Britain. In all the Eastern States 
the same temper prevails more or 
less, and will certainly break forth 
when the opportune moment ar- 
rives." Marshall's Washington, v. 
117 ; Sparks's Washington, ix. 207. 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 
52 i Bradford, ii. 267, 268 ; Holland's 
Western Mass. i. 249. 

2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 
53-55. One of these petitions was 
from the convention held at Paxton, 
in Worcester county, Sept. 26, and 

continued in session until the 28th. 
Worcester Mag. No. 27, for Oct. 1786. 
A petition was also sent in from 
Worcester, where a meeting was held 
Sept. 25, which continued in session 
until Oct. 2. Ibid. The petition of 
eighteen towns in Middlesex county is 
given in ibid. No. 30. This conven- 
tion was held Oct. 3. 

3 Holland's Western Mass. i. 249. 
By this act, all offenders, who should, 
for the space of one horn' after it was 
read to them, continue their combina- 
tions, were to be punished by the con- 
fiscation of their property, the inflic- 
tion of thirty-nine stripes, and im- 
prisonment not more than one year, 
with thirty-nine stripes every three 
months during the term of imprison- 


chap, agreed upon for originating civil causes before justices of the 

^J^ peace, in order to lessen the business of the Courts of Com- 

1786. mon Pleas, and to render law processes less expensive ; a new 

Nov. 15. « tender act " was framed, the operation of which was limited 

to eight months ; an address to the people was prepared and 

published ; and an act of indemnity was passed, granting a 

pardon to all persons concerned in the late disturbances who 

should, by the first day of January following, take the oath 

of allegiance, and behave orderly in the mean time. 1 

In the interval of the passage of these acts, slight disturb- 
Oct. 24. ances occurred at Taunton, and were threatened at Cam- 
Oct. 31. bridge ; and a circular letter was addressed by Shays to the 
Oct. 23. selectmen of many of the towns in Hampshire county, requir- 
ing them to assemble the inhabitants, and to see that they 
were suitably armed and equipped. 2 It was evident, there- 
fore, that the rebellion was not quelled ; and it was the con- 
sciousness that rigorous measures could alone prove effectual 
which induced the House to consent that such steps should be 
taken as the emergency required : for if the government was 
subverted through their neglect, they had the sense to perceive 
that the consequences would be as ruinous to themselves as to 
others. Personal interest, therefore, compelled them to sus- 
tain the laws, and to sanction the course which the governor 
had pursued. 3 

1 Worcester Mag. No. 31, 32, 33, 1786; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- 
and 35, for Nov. 1786 ; Minot's Hist, tion, 58, 59, 63, 64 ; Bradford, ii. 268, 
of the Insurrection, 60, 65, 66 ; Brad- 271 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 250. 
ford, ii. 269, 270. The Address to 3 It was estimated, by some, that 
the People was approved by the Sen- the number of the disaffected in 
ate Oct. 30, and by the House Nov. Massachusetts amounted to one fifth 
14 ; 1200 copies were ordered to be of the inhabitants in several of the 
printed and distributed, and the pam- populous counties ; and their doc- 
phlet, containing forty-two pages, was trines and purposes were embraced 
printed by Adams and Nourse. An- by many young and active spirits 
other act, for rendering processes in in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New 
law less expensive, was passed Feb. Hampshire, and Vermont ; so that the 
14, 1789. Mass. Laws for 1789, whole faction was supposed to be 
chap, lxviii. capable of furnishing a body of from 

2 Worcester Mag. No. 32, for Nov. 12 to 15,000 men, bent on annihi- 


The adjournment of the General Court, which took place chap. 
in November, was immediately followed by a convention of ^^ 
delegates in the county of Worcester, who sent out an ad- 1786. 
dress, asserting the right of the people to examine, censure, 
and condemn the conduct of their rulers, many of whom, they 
affirmed, were " born to affluence," and " perhaps the whole in 
easy circumstances," and, consequently, incapable of sympa- 
thizing fully with the less wealthy. They therefore called 
upon all electors to stand to their rights, and concluded by 
affirming that, however they might suffer in their characters, 
persons, or estates, they should think themselves " happy, if 
they could, in the least degree, contribute to restore harmony 
to the commonwealth, and to support the weight of a tottering 
empire." 1 

If it was the intention of the memorialists that the close of 
this address should be literally construed, the terms ill com- 
ported with its opening language. The people, therefore, 
interpreted it to suit their own views ; and, so far from re- 
fraining from violence, and aiming to restore harmony, they 
were more active than ever in opposing the government, and 
in endeavoring to bring it into general contempt. Before the 
circular was issued, indeed, and when the Court of General Nov.2l, 
Sessions of the Peace attempted to meet at Worcester, accord- 
ing to adjournment, the court house was found to be filled 
with armed men, and the justices, opposed by a triple row of 
bayonets, were obliged to meet in a tavern. 2 The governor, 
on hearing of this, issued his orders as commander-in-chief, 
and called upon the officers of the militia to see that their 

lating property, and cancelling all 1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- 

debts, public and private. Knox to tion, 74 ; Bradford, ii. 273 ; Lincoln's 

Washington ; "Washington to Madi- Worcester ; Ward's Shrewsbury, 101, 

son, in Works, ix. 207 ; Marshall's 102. These insurgents, about 60 in 

Washington, v. 114; Curtis's Hist, number, were headed by Mr. Gale, 

of the Const, i. 273. of Princeton, and were joined by 40 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, more from Shrewsbury, and 50 from 
72, 73. Hubbardston and the neighboring 

2 Worcester Mag. No. 34, for Nov. towns. 


chap, divisions were organized and equipped to take the field at 
^^_^ the shortest notice ; the militia in Middlesex were directed to 
1786. be in readiness to march to Cambridge ; four regiments were 
put in a like disposition in Essex ; and the sheriff of Barnsta- 
ble, where symptoms of uneasiness had begun to appear, was 
directed to call out the militia, if necessary, to support the 
courts in that county. 1 

The complaints of the malcontents now became furious. 
The government, they said, had failed to comply with all their 
requests ; and some of them appeared to entertain the belief 
that they owed no obedience to their rulers further than their 
measures were approved, and that they might at pleasure resist 
obnoxious laws. 2 By persisting in their opposition, they had, 
of course, rejected the offer of pardon ; and, as reason was 
inadequate to dispel their delusion, the governor was required 
to exercise the highest authority delegated to him by the 
legislature to suppress the rebellion. Warrants were accord- 
ingly issued for the arrest and imprisonment of the leaders 
of the insurgents in Middlesex ; and their execution was 
intrusted to the sheriff of that county, aided by a party of 
horse under Colonel Benjamin Hichborn, of Boston, who had 
voluntarily associated to preserve the peace. Towards the 
Nov.29. last of the month, marching orders were issued ; and, joined 
by a party from G-roton under Colonel Henry Wood, the 
whole body proceeded to Concord. The G-roton horsemen, 
being acquainted with the country, acted as scouts, and re- 
turned at night with two prisoners, Parker and Page ; but 
Shattuck, the principal offender, had escaped. He was seized, 
however, the next day, after a violent resistance, in which he 
was wounded ; and the three were taken to Boston, and cast 
into jail. 3 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 1786 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurrec- 
75 ; Bradford, ii. 274. tion, 78; Bradford, ii. 276, 277; 

2 Bradford, ii. 274. Shattuek's Concord, 139. 

3 Worcester Mag. No. 36, for Dec. 


The sword of the government was now unsheathed. The chap. 
heart of the insurrection was broken in Middlesex ; and it N _J^_ 
was only necessary, in other parts, to proceed with similar 1786. 
vigor, to overcome the whole. Yet the rebels were not dis- 
heartened. They denounced the conduct of the legislature as 
" oppressive," accused the members of being " insensible to the 
distresses of their constituents," and avowed? a determination 
to " seek redress of their grievances in any way which was 
practicable." x In accordance with these views, preparations 
were made to prevent the sitting of the Court of Common 
Pleas at Worcester ; and the insurgents, to the number of four Dec. 5. 
hundred, from Hampshire and Worcester, rendezvoused at 
Shrewsbury a few clays previous to the opening of the court. Nov.29. 
While thus posted, a party of horsemen from Boston, twenty Nov.30. 
in number, all men of large fortunes, set out to arrest them ; 
but the insurgents were informed of their approach, and re- 
moved to Holden, and from thence to Grafton. Shays, with 
his party of three hundred and fifty, was quartered at Eut- 
land, but a few miles off ; and from this point he issued his 
orders to his associates. On Sunday, the party from Grafton Dec. 3. 
entered Worcester, and, obtaining the keys, took possession 
of the court house, where, during the night, they were joined 
by others. The train band and alarm list, in the mean time, 
were called out, and, to the number of one hundred and sev- 
enty, paraded, and marched towards the rebels. A conference Dec. 4. 
ensued ; and, as they refused to disperse, the commander of 
the militia, Captain Howe, ordered his men to charge bayonets 
and advance. The insurgents wavered, and fled to an emi- 
nence before the court house ; and the militia passed them to 
the Hancock Arms, returned, and were dismissed. 2 

In the evening, the arms of the insurgents, which had been 

1 Worcester Mag. No. 36, for Dec. rection, 82 ; Bradford, ii. 278; Hol- 
1786 ; Bradford, ii. 274. land's Western Mass. i. 252, 253 ; 

2 Worcester Mag. No. 36, for Dec. Lincoln's Worcester ; Ward's Shrews- 
1786; Minot's Hist, of the Insur- bury, 102-105. 


chap, incautiously exposed, were secreted by several young men, in 
^^^ the spirit of mischief, and an alarm was raised that a company 
1786. of light horse from Boston was approaching ; but the alarm 
proved false, the arms were recovered, and the panic-struck 
soldiers remained in a posture of defence through the night. 
A violent snow storm set in about sunset ; but this did not 
prevent the insurgents from Holden and other towns from 
marching to the rendezvous ; and, though the storm raged the 
next day, they collected to the number of five or six hundred. 
Dec. 5. The judges met at the Sun Tavern ; but it was useless to think 
of proceeding to business. The insurgents continued to pour 
into the town ; and by the arrival of Shays, on the following 
Dec. 6. day, with his three hundred and fifty men, their number had 
swelled to nearly a thousand. The members of the late con- 
vention and the leaders of the mob conferred as to what should 
be done ; and, as they were hardly prepared for open hostili- 
ties, a petition to the governor was draughted, copies of which 
were sent into all the towns in the three western counties. 
The language of this petition was apparently respectful. The 
suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus was the chief ground 
of complaint ; and the petitioners, while they prayed that the 
benefits of the act of indemnity might still be extended to 
them, assured his excellency that they did not rise on account 
of their disaffection to the commonwealth, as was alleged, but 
because they were unable to provide for their families, and, at 
the same time, pay their debts. Not a word of acknowledg- 
ment of error did they insert, but promised to withdraw only 
on conditions which they knew would be rejected, and which 
were tantamount to a surrender at discretion to their de- 
mands. 1 

1 Worcester Ma ». No. 36 for Dec. That hunger broke stone walls; that dogs must 

1786; Lincoln's Worcester; Ward's That^'eat Avas made for mouths; that the 

Shrewsbury, 105-109; Holland's gods sent not 

Wpstprn Mass i 255 ' Corn for the rich only. With these shreds 

W estern Mass. l. zoo. They vented their complainings." 

" They said they were an hungry ; sighed forth Cbriolanus, Act. i. Sc L. 



The courts adjourned, satisfied that resistance would other- chap. 
wise be offered. Previously, however, the judges were insult- ^J^ 
ed, and one of them was apprehended by the mob. But the 1786. 
insurgents themselves were speedily alarmed ; for General 
Shepard, with a body of twelve hundred men, had taken the 
field, ready to attack them at a moment's warning. They 
accordingly left Worcester, greatly to the relief of the well- Dec. 9. 
disposed citizens ; and, though they did not disband, nor even 
disperse, quiet was, for a short time, partially restored. 1 

The proceedings in Hampshire were equally disgraceful. 
Addresses were published in the Gazette and the Herald, pro- 
fessing to set forth " the principal causes of the late risings 
of the people, and of their present movement," and calling 
upon the people to contend without ceasing until redress 
should be obtained. 2 The insurgents, likewise, remained under 
arms, and talked even of marching to Boston, for the release 
of Shattuck and the other prisoners confined there. Meas- 
ures were also instituted to embody their forces, by the ap- 
pointment of a committee of seventeen, 3 who were to write to 
the different towns, directing them to meet, organize their 
companies, and form them into regiments. Yet the courage 
of the malcontents was fast oozing out, and there was evident 
trepidation in council and camp. The staid and respectable 
were disgusted with their movements ; for the most illiterate 
presided at their gatherings, and so weak were their demon- /J^l 
strations that the newspaper wags found ample scope to launch 
at them their shafts ; and, in one of their lampoons, the funeral 
obsequies of the " Robin Hood Club " were described with a 
gravity which excited the risibles of many a person. 4 Shays 

1 Lincoln's Worcester; Ward's 3 Their names are given in Hol- 
Shrewsbury, 109, 110; Holland's land's Western Mass. i. 257. 
Western Mass. i. 255. 4 Holland's Western Mass. i. 257, 

2 Hampshire Gazette ; Hampshire 258. " The corpse was preceded by 
Herald ; Minot's Hist, of the Insur- the little man in the east, with a long, 
rection, 83-87 ; Bradford, ii. 278 ; white wand, to clear the streets of 
Holland's Western Mass. i. 255, 256. little boys, who collected in great 

VOL. III. 16 


chap, himself was beginning to waver, and was " ready in a moment 

^^^ to accept of a pardon." J And, as many of his associates 

1786. were in a similar condition, it is probable that, had the crisis 

been seized, the malcontents might have been effectually 


But matters had gone too far to be peaceably settled. The 
Dec. 26. courts were to meet at Springfield in a few weeks ; and, as the 
courage of Shays in the mean time revived, he marched to 
that town, with three hundred of his followers, to obstruct the 
sessions. The court house was seized, and guards were posted 
in military form ; and, after these preliminaries, a committee 
was appointed to wait on the judges with a petition, requiring 
them to desist from further proceedings. This petition would 
doubtless have been instantly rejected, had it not been backed 
by scores of bayonets and hundreds of hickory clubs. Such 
arguments were too strong to be overlooked by wise men ; 
and the dignitaries of the bench were constrained to yield. 2 

There was no alternative for the government but to act. 
This " inundation of distempered humor " must be checked, or 
serious, if not fatal, consequences would ensue. It would be 
impolitic to " outsport discretion." If the " sourest points " 
had been hitherto met with the " sweetest terms," and tender 
rebukes had been substituted instead of the sharp-edged sword, 
it was time to take a firmer stand. Accordingly, the advice 
of the Council was sought ; and, with their approval, orders 
jln 7 * were i ssuec * f° r tae raising of a body of forty-four hundred 
rank and file from the different counties, with four regiments 

numbers, gazing at the wondrous covered with a white cap, suggestive 

novelty. At his right hand, the great of what death he expected soon to die. 

and only remaining member of the . . . The few remaining members 

council of war, weeping over the pe- closed the procession." 

tition of the men at arms, addressed 1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 

to the governor and council, which 90; Bradford, ii. 281. 

he carried oj.en in his left hand. 2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 

. . . The chairman followed the 91; Bradford, ii. 282; HoUand's 

corpse as chief mourner, with his cap Western Mass. i. 259. 

under his arm, and his venerable locks 


of artillery from Suffolk and Middlesex. 1 The command of chap. 
the whole was intrusted to General Lincoln, as the first major ^J^ 
general in the state, whose character, as a gentleman and a 1787. 
military officer, peculiarly qualified him for the delicate trust ; 
supplies for the troops were speedily procured ; and an address Jan. 12. 
to the people was prepared and circulated, calling upon them 
once more to refrain from violence, and assuring them that, in 
case of resistance, all the insurgents would be dealt with in a 
summary manner. 2 

Quiet, by these means, was restored at the east. But the 
counties at the west were in a vehement flame. Day had 
assembled a company of four hundred, with glittering muskets 
and sharp-pointed bayonets, who were billeted upon the in- 
habitants, and exercised daily. The arsenal at Springfield 
was to be the point of attack; for there the arms of the 
United States were lodged, and cannon and powder were 
stored in quantities. Shays was active to secure this post, 
and to secure it before the arrival of Lincoln. To frustrate 
his purpose was of the utmost importance, for the welfare of 
the state would be jeoparded by his success. General Shepard 
accordingly took possession of the post, with nine hundred 
men, and was reenforced with two hundred more, all of whom 
were from Hampshire. Day, with his men, was stationed at 
West Springfield ; Eli Parsons, with four hundred from Berk- 
shire, was posted at Chicopee, in the north part of the town ; 
and Shays, with his forces, eleven hundred in all, approached 
the arsenal by the Boston road. The number of the insur- 

1 Of these, 700 were to be raised ~ MS. Letter of General Lincoln 

in Suffolk, 500 in Essex, 800 in Mid- to General Washington, 70 ; Minot's 

dlesex, 1200 in Hampshire, and 1200 Hist, of the Insurrection, 93-102 ; 

in Worcester. MS. Letter of General Bradford, ii. 287-290; Holland's 

Lincoln to General Washington, 70 ; Western Mass. i. 259. The instruc- 

Sparks's Washington, ix. 221; Mi- tions to General Lincoln are given 

not's Hist, of the Insurrection, 93; in his MS. Letter to Washington, 

Bradford, ii. 288; Marshall's Wash- 71-73. 
ington, v. 121; Holland's Western 
Mass. i. 259. 


chap, gents was at least eighteen hundred, and a considerable pro- 

^JJ^L, portion of them were " old continentals." 1 
1787. The twenty-fifth of January, at four in the morning, was 
' assigned for the attack ; and Shays wrote to Day requesting 
his assistance ; but, whether it was inconvenient for him to be 
present at that time, or whether he coveted personally the 
honor of Shepard's surrender, ho was induced to delay the 
projected plan. The reply of Day was intercepted byShep- 
ard ; and, acquainted with the movements of the " regula- 
tors," he prepared to receive them. Ignorant of the fate of 
his letter, Day sent an insolent message to Shepard, demand- 
ing that the troops in Springfield should lay down their arms, 
and return to their several homes upon parole. Shays, on his 
part, sent a " petition n to General Lincoln, averring his unwill- 
ingness to be accessory to the shedding of blood, and his 
desire for peace, and proposing indemnity for himself and his 
associates, and the release of the prisoners confined in Boston. 2 
The situation of Shepard was exceedingly critical. Not- 
withstanding his hypocritical professions of peace, Shays was 
advancing on the Boston road, and approached to within two 
hundred and fifty yards of the arsenal. Shepard had pre- 
viously despatched an order to General Brooks to march to 
Springfield with the Middlesex militia as speedily as possible ; 
and General Lincoln, aware of his need of assistance, pre- 
pared to march from Worcester to join him. Obliged, there- 
fore, for the time being, to depend upon his own resources, a 
message was sent to the insurgents by General Shepard, in- 
forming them that he was acting under the authority of the 
state and of the Congress, and that he was determined, at all 
nazard, to defend his post ; but they were undeterred by this 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 2 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 
ington, 74 ; Minot's Hist, of the In- ington, 74 ; Minot's Hist, of the In- 
surrection, 107, 108; Bradford, ii. surrection, 109; Bradford, ii. 291, 
291-293; Holland's Western Mass. 292; Holland's Western Mass. i. 
i. 261, 262. 262-264. 



announcement, and continued to advance. Further parley chap. 
was useless ; and orders were given to discharge two cannon ^^^ 
over their heads. This quickened their approach ; and they 1787. 
pressed forward, with an unbroken front, to within fifty yards 
of his line. The artillery was then pointed at the centre of 
their column ; the order was given ; and, as the smoke rolled 
up, a pitiable scene of confusion was exhibited. The cry of 
" Murder " was heard from the rear of the mob ; three, at 
least, lay dead on the ground, and a fourth, in his agony, was 
writhing in the snow. In vain did Shays attempt to rally 
them ; they retreated in disorder, and fled to Ludlow, ten 
miles distant. 1 

Day, in the mean time, more irritated than dismayed, re- 
mained in inglorious inactivity at West Springfield ; nor was 
the report of the cannon sufficient to arouse him. The army 
of Lincoln was a day's march distant, but was advancing rap- 
idly to the scene of strife. To avoid a collision with him, 
Shays, with his followers, withdrew to Ohicopee, where Par- 
sons was posted, with the rebels from Berkshire ; but, while 
on his way, two hundred men deserted his ranks. The arrival 
of Lincoln was greeted with joy, 2 and pursuit and aggression Jan. 27. 
were immediately counselled. Every thing favored the success 
of his plans, for the camp of the enemy was filled with confu- 
sion. Wearied, therefore, as were his soldiers, they were 
marched towards West Springfield, while the Hampshire 
troops, under General Shepard, were sent up the- river to the 
rendezvous of Shays. The troops of General Lincoln crossed 
on the ice ; and, at the ferry, the guard, after a feeble resist- 
ance, hastily fled. The infantry, on reaching the shore, marched 
up " Shad Lane," while the cavalry, under Major Buffington, 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- were thrown into Shepard's camp on 
ington, 74 ; Marshall's Washington, the night of the 26th. MS. Letter of 
V. 122; Minot's Hist, of the Insur- Lincoln to Washington, 75. General 
rection, 111; Bradford, ii. 293, 294; Lincoln himself arrived at noon on 
Holland's Western Mass. i. 265. the 27th. 

2 One regiment, and some horse, 


chap, who was distinguished for his gallantry, went up the middle 

^^^ of the river, to prevent the crossing of the force under Day. 1 

1787. The retreat of the latter speedily followed ; and so hastily did 

his troops flee, that bread and pork and beans were left baking 

in the ovens, and their path to Northampton was strewed with 

cast-off muskets and knapsacks. 2 

The flight of Day was a signal for his associates to shift for 
themselves ; and, alarmed for his own safety, Shays, whose 
courage had nearly deserted him, hastily marched through 
South Hadley to Amherst, supplying the hunger of his men 

Jan. 29. by plunder. Lincoln pursued him ; but, before his arrival, 
the discomfited leader pushed forward to Pelham, and shel- 
tered himself amidst its hills. 3 The public, by .these victories, 
were relieved of their fears ; domestic tranquillity was re- 
stored to the agitated inhabitants of Springfield ; and General 
Lincoln passed over to Hadley, to find a shelter for his wea- 
ried troops. The alarm of the same day called out the Brook- 
field volunteers, to the number of fifty, under Colonel Baldwin, 
and one hundred horse under Colonel Crafts ; and at Middle- 
field they succeeded in capturing the party which had occa- 
sioned the disturbance. 4 

The insurgents, though defeated, were posted in Pelham in 
considerable numbers, and had taken possession of two high 
hills, which were difficult of access from the depth of the 
snow. Further hostilities, therefore, seemed to be threatened ; 
and, to prevent these, if possible, General Lincoln addressed 

Jan. 30. a letter to Shays and his associates, counselling them to dis- 
band. The reply of Shays was in his customary vein ; and 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- . 3 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 
ington, 75 ; Minot's Hist, of the In- ington, 76 ; Minot's Hist, of the In- 
surrection, 112, 113; Bradford, ii. surrection, 114, 116; Bradford, ii. 
294, 295 ; Holland's Western Mass. 296 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 
i. 266. 266, 267. 

2 Worcester Mag. No. 46, for Feb. 4 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 
1787; Holland's Western Mass, i. 117, 118; Bradford, ii. 296; Hol- 
266. land's Western Mass. i. 267. 


the assertion was repeated that, however unjustifiable their chap. 
measures might appear, their paths were marked with " a de- ^^ 
gree of innocence," and that they were willing to lay down 1787. 
their arms " on the condition of a general pardon," and return 
to their homes. A "committee of reconciliation" was also 
appointed to wait upon the general, and receive his answer ; Jan. 31. 
but their request was declared to be " totally inadmissible," as 
no powers had been delegated to him which would justify a 
delay of his operations. 1 Communications from the towns 
were similarly treated ; and the malcontents, conscious of the 
weakness of their party, petitioned the legislature that hostili- 
ties might cease. 2 

The session of the General Court was to take place in 
January ; but it was the third of February before a quorum Feb. 3. 
appeared. The speech of the governor, which was full, con- 
tained a review of the proceedings of the insurgents, and 
insisted upon a vigorous suppression of the insurrection. 3 
Entire satisfaction with the conduct of the executive was 
expressed by both branches ; and, to signalize their readiness 
to sustain his authority, a declaration of rebellion was adopt- Feb. 4. 
ed, accompanied by a resolve approving the offer of clemency 
to the insurgents, and empowering the governor, in the name 
of the General Court, to promise a pardon, under such dis- 
qualifications as should afterwards be provided, to all privates 
and non-commissioned officers in arms against the common- 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 1787 ; Minot's Hist, of the Insurreo 
ington, 76-79, 83 ; Worcester Mag. tion, 123 ; Bradford, ii. 299 ; Hol- 
No. 44, for Feb. 1787 ; Minot's Hist, land's Western Mass. i. 271. " The 
of the Insurrection, 118-122 ; Brad- moment is important," wrote Wash- 
ford, ii. 298, 299 ; Holland's Western ington to Knox, Feb. 3, 1787, in 
Mass. i. 268, 269. The letter to Sparks's Washington, ix. 228. " If 
Shays was delivered by Gen. Put- the government shrinks, or is unable 
nam, and two other officers, who to enforce its laws, fresh manoeuvres 
were of the family of Lincoln. will be displayed by the insurgents, 

2 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- anarchy and confusion must prevail, 
ington, 81, 82 ; Marshall's Washing- and every thing will be turned topsy- 
ton, v. 123. turvy in that state, where it is not 

3 Worcester Mag. No. 44, for Feb. probable the mischief will end." 


chap, wealth, unless excepted by the general officer commanding the 

^^_ troops, upon condition of surrendering their arms and taking 

1787. the oath of allegiance within a fixed time. 1 A bill was also 

Feb. 8. ° 

passed appropriating the sum of forty thousand pounds of the 
impost and excise duties for reimbursing the moneys borrowed 
for suppressing the rebellion, and a .resolve approving the 
spirited conduct of General Shepard. 2 

Pending these movements on the part of the General Court, 
and in the face of the petition forwarded to that body ac- 
knowledging their error and promising to disband, 3 Shays, as 
if determined to place his men beyond the temptation to 
desert, withdrew his forces from Pelham to Petersham, a num- 
ber of the towns in that vicinity having engaged to support 
him. A pursuit was commenced by Lincoln at eight in the 
evening j and, though the weather was exceedingly cold, and 
the path before him was "bleak and drear," and a violent 
snow storm overtook him on his route, he pushed on without 
halting, to the infinite surprise of the discomfited rebels, whom 
he found reposing in fancied, security. . Hardly had they time 
to snatch up their arms, when the whole army under General 
Feb. 4. Lincoln — cavalry, artillery, infantry, and all — came pouring 
into the town. The frightened rebels precipitately fled, throng- 
ing the back road leading to Athol, and scarcely discharging 
a gun in their retreat. Lincoln might have slain many, had 
such been his policy ; but he contented himself with routing 
them, and taking one hundred and fifty prisoners, whom he 
dismissed to their homes, after administering to them the oath 
of allegiance. Shays, however, effected his escape, and was 
next heard of at Winchester, New Hampshire, with three 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- ington, 97, 101 ; Minot's Hist, of the 
ington, 87-95 ; Worcester Mag. Nos. Insurrection, 126. 

45 and 46, for Feb. 1787 ; Minot's 3 For this petition, see Worcester 

Hist, of the Insurrection, 124: Brad- Mag. No. 47, for Feb. 1787; Minot's 

ford, ii. 371-373; Holland's Western Hist, of the Insurrection, 127, 128 j 

Mass. i. 271. Bradford, ii. 300. 

2 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 


hundred of his men, while the rest had fled to Vermont and chap. 

New York. 1 ^^v-L. 

The tidings of this defeat reached Boston on the sixth ; and 1787. 

& Feb. 6. 

the friends of the government were encouraged to hope that 
the rebellion was at an end. The order for raising twenty-six 
hundred men, which had just been passed, was accordingly so 
far countermanded as to provide for raising fifteen hundred Feb. 8. 
for four months, unless sooner discharged ;. the petition of the 
insurgents was rejected ; the conduct of Lincoln was approved ; 
a proclamation was issued offering -a reward of one hundred 
and fifty pounds for the apprehension of the leaders of the 
rebellion ; and the governor was empowered to write to the 
neighboring states, where the fugitives were secreted, request- 
ing their concurrence in measures for their capture. 2 

Compelled to change their mode of warfare, the remaining 
insurgents determined to harass the inhabitants in small par- 
ties, and to accomplish by these means what they had other- 
wise failed to effect. But the vigilance of the government 
was fully aroused, and in all their incursions they were suc- 
cessfully repulsed. Patriots rallied for the defence of the 
constitution ; and in Worcester, in Hampshire, and in Berk- 
shire, the rebellion was checked, and the insurgents were 
routed. Parties of volunteers offered their services, and men 
of the first rank were filled with enthusiasm. Driven to des- 
peration, Parsons and his allies breathed rash vows of " re- Feb. 15. 
lentless bloodshed," resolved to " Burgoyne Lincoln and his 
army," and declared their determination to carry their point, 
if " fire, blood, and carnage " would effect it. 3 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 46, for Feb. 1787 ; Minot's Hist. 
ington, 84-86; Minot's Hist, of the of the Insurrection, 129-131, 135; 
Insurrection, 131-135 ; Bradford, ii. Bradford, ii. 303, 305 ; Holland's 
301 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 270, Western Mass. i. 

271; Lincoln's Worcester; Ward's 3 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 

Shrewsbury, 113. 136-148; Bradford, ii. 303-305; 

2 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- Holland's Western Mass. i. 272-275. 
ington, 96-98 ; Worcester Mag. No. 


The question, what disqualifications should constitute the 
conditions of indemnity to the rebels, was debated by the 
1787. General Court for several days. A subject so new was at- 
tended with a great many difficulties and perplexities. It 
involved the character of the insurgents and their cause ; and, 
as the effect of their punishment would depend on the convic- 
tion of the public of its justice, and on the exactest proportion 
between the penalty and the crime, it was easy to foresee that, 
if the penalty exceeded the most moderate limits, numbers, 
instead of being deterred by their fate, would excuse their 
crimes, and become their advocates as the victims of power. 
Feb. 16. The decision of the Houses was as mild as could have been 
expected ; and the instituted conditions were, " that the 
offenders, having laid down their arms, and taken the oath of 
allegiance to the commonwealth, should keep the peace for 
three years, and, during that term, should not serve as jurors, 
be eligible to any town office or any other office under the 
government, should not hold or exercise the employment of 
schoolmasters, innkeepers, or retailers of spirituous liquors, or 
give their votes for the same term of time for any officer, civil 
or military, within the commonwealth, unless they should, 
after the first day of May, 1788, exhibit plenary evidence of 
their having returned to their allegiance and kept the peace, 
and of their possessing such an unequivocal attachment to the 
government as should appear to the General Court a sufficient 
ground to discharge them from all or any of these disqualifi- 
cations." To such of the privates among the rebels as had 
taken up arms on the side of the government before the first 
of February current, the governor was empowered to extend 
the release of all or any of these conditions, as also to certain 
others designated. And those absolutely excepted from the 
indemnity were "such as were not citizens of the state, such 
as had been members of any General Court in the state, or 
had been employed in any commissioned office, civil or mili- 
tary ; such as, after delivering up their arms, and taking the 


oath of allegiance during the rebellion, had again taken and chap. 
borne arms against the government ; such as had acted as J*J^_, 
committees, counsellors, or advisers to the rebels ; and such 1787. 
as, in former years, had been in arms against the government, 
in the capacity of commissioned officers, and were afterwards 
pardoned, and had been concerned in the rebellion." * 

Judicious, however, as these measures appeared in the eyes 
of many, there were not wanting others who " could not but 
suppose that, if the number of the disfranchised had been less, 
the public peace would Jiave been equally safe, and the gen- 
eral happiness promoted." Among these was General Lincoln, 
who was thoroughly acquainted with all the circumstances of 
the rebellion, and whose statesmanlike views, which do equal 
honor to his head and his heart, were freely expressed in a 
communication to a "private friend in Boston/ 7 and in a 
voluminous epistle to General Washington. 

" The act," he observes, " includes so great a description of 
persons, that, in its operation, many towns will be disfran- 
chised. This will .injure the whole ; for multiplied disorders 
must be experienced under such circumstances. The people 
who have been in arms against the government, and their 
abettors, have complained, and do now complain, that griev- 
ances exist, and that they ought to have redress. We have 
invariably said to them, ' You are wrong in flying to arms ; 
you should seek redress in a constitutional way, and wait the 
decision of the legislature. 7 These observations were un- 
doubtedly just ; but will they not now complain, and say that 
we have cut them off from all hope of redress from that quar- 
ter ? for we have denied them a representation in that legisla- 
tive body by whose laws they must be governed. While they 
are in this situation, they never will be reconciled to govern- 
ment, nor will they submit to the terms of it from any other 

1 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- of the Insurrection, 138 ; Holland's 
ington, 104-112; Worcester Mag. Western Mass. i. 275, 276. 
No. 47, for Feb. 1787 5 Minot's Hist. 


chap, motive than fear, excited by a constant military, armed force 

^J^ extended over them. 

1787. " While these distinctions are made, the subjects of them 
will remain invidious, and there will be no affection existing 
among the inhabitants of the same neighborhood, or families, 
where they have thought and acted differently. Those who 
have been opposers of government will view with a jealous 
eye those who have been supporters of it, and consider them 
as the cause which produced the disqualifying act, and who 
are now keeping it alive. Many never will submit to it. 
They will rather leave the state than do it. And if we could 
reconcile ourselves to this loss, and on its account make no 
objection, yet these people will leave behind them near and 
dear connections, who will feel themselves wounded through 
their friends. 

" The influence of these people is so fully checked, that we 
have nothing to apprehend from them now but their individ- 
ual votes. When this is the case, to express fears from that 
quarter is impolitic. Admit that some of these very people 
should obtain a seat in the Assembly the next year, we have 
nothing to fear from the measure ; so far from that, I think 
it would produce the most salutary effects. For my own part, 
I wish that those in general who should receive a pardon were 
at liberty to exercise all the rights of good citizens ; for I 
believe it to be the only way which can be adopted to make 
them good members of society, and to reconcile them to that 
government under which we wish them to live. If we are 
afraid of their weight, and they are for a given time deprived 
of certain privileges, they will come forth hereafter with 
redoubled vigor. I think we have much more to fear from a 
certain supineness which has seized on a great proportion of 
our citizens, who have been totally inattentive to the exercise 
of those rights conveyed to them by the constitution of this 
commonwealth. If the good people of the states will not 
exert themselves in the appointment of proper characters for 


the executive and legislative branches of government, no dis- chap. 
franchising acts will ever make us a happy and well-governed ^^L, 
people. 1787. 

" I cannot, therefore, on the whole, but think that, if the 
opposers to government in general had been disqualified, on 
a pardon, from serving as jurors on the trial of those who had 
been in sentiment with them, we should have been perfectly 
safe. For, as I observed, these people have now no influence 
as a body, and their individual votes are not to be dreaded ; 
for we certainly shall not admit that the majority is with them 
in their political sentiments. If they are, how, upon republi- 
can principles, can we justly exclude them from the right of 
governing." 1 

The opinions thus expressed were cherished by others, and 
the friends to lenient measures " began again to advance their 
sentiments." Already had petitions appeared from more than 
twenty towns to request the liberation of the state prisoners, 
and, in some instances, the recall of the state's army, under 
the humane idea of preventing the shedding of blood ; and 
attempts were made to mitigate a punishment which the perse- 
verance of the Yebels had rendered it difficult to delay or 
avoid ; but the advocates for the insurgents had so often 
pledged themselves for their reformation on condition of their 
pardon, and these pledges had so often failed or been violated, 
that little inclination was felt to continue a forbearance which 
had proved ineffectual, and which had tended rather to em- 
bolden than to reconcile those towards whom it had hitherto 
been extended. 2 

1 MS. Letter of General Lincoln such as they are. Upon my first 

to General Washington, dated at seeing it, I formed an opinion per- 

Pittsfield, February 22, 1787, in a MS. fectly coincident with yours, viz., that 

volume in the possession of his grand- measures more generally lenient 

son, Benjamin Lincoln, Esq., of Bos- might have produced equally as good 

ton. Comp. Sparks's Washington, an effect, without entirely alienating 

ix. 240. " I am extremely happy," the affections of the people from the 

says Washington to Lincoln, March government." Comp. also ibid. 249. 

13, 1787, " to find that your senti- 2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 

ments upon the disfranchising act are " I hope," wrote Rufus King to El- 


The governors of Connecticut, Yermont, New Hampshire, 
New York, and Pennsylvania cheerfully offered to assist the 
1787. executive of Massachusetts in suppressing the rebellion ; and 
the General Assemblies concurred in these offers. The course 
of Rhode Island was less decided ; and a motion for a procla- 
mation for the apprehension of the insurgents was rejected by 
a large majority, and " one of the very refugees was allowed 
a seat in their chamber." x 

As disturbances had now in a great measure subsided, the 
legislature turned its attention to the trial of those who had 
Feb. 26. been seized and imprisoned. For this purpose, the Supreme 
Judicial Courts were directed by law to hold a special session 
in the disaffected counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, and Mid- 
dlesex j and, in order that the trials might be impartially 
conducted, instructions were sent to the towns for revising the 
jury boxes ; and three commissioners — the Hons. Benjamin 
Lincoln, Samuel Phillips, Jun., and Samuel A. Otis — were 
appointed, with authority to promise indemnity to those who 
returned to their allegiance, and to make remission of the 
conditions of the disqualifying act wherever, in their judg- 
ment, the parties were entitled to the same. From the pro- 
tection of this commission, however, the four rebel leaders — 
Shays, Wheeler, Parsons, and Day — were excluded, together 
with all persons who had fired upon or killed any of the citi- 
zens in the peace of the commonwealth, and the commander 
of the party to which such persons belonged, the members of 
the rebel council of war, and all persons against whom the 
Governor and Council had issued a warrant, unless liberated 
on bail. 2 

bridge Gerry, February 11, 1787, in tensive. A few, and those of the 
Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 7, " the most consequence, should be the vie- 
most extensive and minute attention tims of law." 

will now be paid to the eradicating ' Miuot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 
of every seed of insurgency. Re- 152-160 ; Bradford, ii. 305. 
member, however, that punishment, 2 MS. Letter of Lincoln to Wash- 
to be efficacious, should not be ex- ington, 102-104 ; Minot's Hist, of the 


Agreeably to the system which ,had been begun at the last chap. 
session„ several reformatory measures were adopted, at this 
time, by the General Court ; and a bill was passed for 
reducing the number of terms of the Courts of Common Pleas 
and General Sessions of the Peace, a new fee bill was enacted, 
and a committee was appointed to inquire " whether there 
were any real public grievances under which the people of the 
commonwealth labored." The report of this committee, which 
consisted of three articles, 1 gave rise to debate ; and on one 
of the articles, relative to a reduction of the governor's sal- 
ary, a bill was passed, which his excellency returned with his 
objections ; and, as it failed to receive the vote required by 
the constitution, it was dropped, and the legislature was pro- 
rogued to the next annual election. 

During this recess, the commissioners were busy in the mild 
exercise of the authority which had been intrusted to them, 
and the Supreme Judicial Court was employed in the " no less 
necessary, though less thankful, office " of trying the offenders. 
Nearly eight hundred persons took the benefit of the commis- 
sion ; and, of the prisoners tried, six were convicted of treason 
in the county of Berkshire, six in Hampshire, one in Worces- 
ter, and one afterwards in Middlesex, all of whom received 
sentence of death ; while a number of others, convicted of 
seditious words and practices, were variously sentenced ; and 
one, in particular, a member of the House of Representatives, 
was subjected to the ignominious punishment of sitting on the 
gallows, with a rope about his neck, was fined fifty pounds, 
and was bound to keep the peace and to be of good behavior 
for five years. 2 

Insurrection, 161-164 ; Bradford, ii. * For these articles see Minot's 

306; Holland's Western Mass. i. 282, Hist, of the Insurrection, 166; Hol- 

283. As an additional precaution land's Western Mass. i. 284. 

against feigned converts, the select- 2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 

men and other town officers were re- 171, 172; Bradford, ii. 307, 308; 

quired to take and subscribe the oath and Holland's Western Mass. i. 284, 

of allegiance to the commonwealth. 285, where the names are given. 


In the mean time, the Governor and Council, in the exercise 

of that lenity which had hitherto distinguished their course 

1787. extended a free pardon to eight of the condemned, leaving 

' only two in each of the counties of Berkshire and Hampshire 

to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. But even to these 

May 17. a reprieve was granted, though they were taken to the gallows 

impressed with the conviction that no mercy would be shown 

to them. Yet, notwithstanding this leniency, a few remained 

in the attitude of defiance, and continued to act against the 

government. 1 

The unexpected death of the treasurer of the commonwealth 
rendered it necessary to convene for the fourth time the Gen- 
Apr. 27. eral Court. The chief magistrate, Governor Bowdoin, had 
found his position peculiarly unpleasant — partly from the 
policy which he had been compelled to adopt, and partly from 
the disaffection of many to his administration. He availed 
himself, therefore, of this opportunity to express his satisfac- 
tion that the people had seen fit to relieve him of his burdens 
by the choice of a new executive, and to declare that he should 
have sooner resigned his office could he have done so without 
the imputation of deserting his trust at so critical a period. 
In taking leave of the legislature, he assured them of his 
affection for the commonwealth, and expressed the hope that 
juster notions of liberty might prevail, without which licen- 
tiousness and despotism must ensue. 2 The Court, in reply, 
forgetting for the time their personal piques, accorded to his 
excellency the warmest praise for the measures he had adopt- 
ed, declared their confidence in his integrity and good will, 
expressed regret for his retirement from office, and gave utter- 
ance to their wish that he might receive from a grateful peo- 
ple those marks of affection and esteem which were the proper 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 
172; HoUand's Western Mass. i. 173; Bradford, ii. 311, 312; Hoi- 
286, 287. land's Western Mass. i. 287. 


rewards for his services and merits. 1 Nothing, however, mate- chap. 


rial to the rebellion was transacted at this session, which con- ^J^, 
tinned but nine days, save that the report of the commissioners 1787. 
was rendered. In this document, the causes of the outbreak 
were specifically alluded to, as arising from public and private 
debts, and a delusion with respect to the proceedings of the 
legislature, and the true situation of affairs in the state. The 
severest statement it contained was a reflection upon the con- 
duct of those members of the General Court who had failed 
to enlighten their constituents when it was in their power to 
have silenced the unreasonable complainer, and who had, by 
their conversation, as well as by their conduct, irritated and 
inflamed the restless and uneasy, and alarmed the peaceable 
but uninformed citizen. 2 

By the choice of Governor Hancock in the place of Gov- 
ernor Bowdoin, and by the return of a new House chosen by 
the suffrages of the citizens at large, an opportunity was offered 
to determine to what extent the people were dissatisfied with 
the state constitution, and the nature of the grievances which 
demanded redress. How great were the expectations that 
extraordinary demonstrations would be made it is needless to 
say ; for three fourths of the new representatives had not 
served in the old court. But, to the utter discomfiture of 
those who had been loudest in their complaints, the new gov- 
ernment, so far from retracting what their predecessors had 
done, found themselves necessitated to sanction their measures, 
and a proposition for a general indemnity was negatived by 
a vote of one hundred and twenty to ninety-four. 3 But some- 
thing must be done to justify the grounds on which they had 
been elected ; yet, while they indorsed and continued the ten- 
der act, recently passed, and condemned the issue of paper 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 174 ; Holland's Western Mass. i. 288. 
174; Bradford, ii. 314; Holland's 3 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, 
Western Mass. i. 288. 176, 179; Bradford, ii. 314; Hol- 

2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, land's Western Mass. i. 288, 289. 
VOL. III. 17 


chap, money, they were obliged to comply with the usual measures 
^J^ for the suppression of rebellion and the supply of the troops ; 
1787. though the governor consented to relinquish a portion of his 
salary " for the benefit of the state," he did so with the under- 
standing that a precedent should not be established thereby ; 
and all that could be effected in favor of the insurgents was 
the passage of a resolution, in general terms, that, until the 
end of the next session, no prosecution should be commenced 
or proceeded on for sedition or seditious practices. 1 Shortly 
Jun. 16. after, however, the convicts who had been reprieved, but who 
remained under sentence, were reprieved for a still longer 
time ; and, in the end, when quiet was restored, a full pardon 
was granted to all but one, whose sentence was commuted to 
hard labor for seven years. 2 

Thus, chiefly through the vigilance of Governor Bowdoin, 
and the concurrence of Governor Hancock, with the sanction 
of the " sober second thought " of the community, were dis- 
, turbances quieted and order restored. If any thing was want- 
ing to complete the success of the measures of government, it 
was furnished by the criminals themselves, the hardiest of whom 
implored the mercy they had so often rejected ; and even Par- 
Feb.' sons an d Shays, at a subsequent date, preferred petitions for 
indemnity and pardon. It is to the honor of Massachusetts 
that this prayer was granted ; for it proved beyond question 
the confidence of the people in the stability of their govern- 
ment, and their willingness to forgive injuries rather than to 
gratify a thirst for revenge upon men whose guilt had been 
precipitated by a delusion which was shared with thousands 
of others. 3 Well may the citizens of this commonwealth 

1 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, consent ; the other by force : one 
179-186; Bradford, ii. 315; Hoi- gains their hearts; the other holds 
land's Western Mass. i. 289, 290. their hands. The first is always chosen 

2 Minot's Hist, of the Insurrection, by those who design to govern for the 

3 " There are but two ways," says people's interest ; the other, by those 
the author of Cato's Letters, " to gov- who design to oppress them for their 
era a nation : One is by their own own." Shays died in Sparta, N. Y., 


pride themselves upon the wisdom of their rulers, and upon chap. 
that reliance which, even in the darkest hour, has been placed ^J^, 
upon the virtue and integrity of the masses. 1 In no other 1787. 
country, it may be safely affirmed, could a crisis so formidable 
have been passed through so easily. The widest liberty is 
not incompatible with peace ; and excesses, if threatened, may 
be left, in a free government, to be checked by the salutary 
restraints of moral power, whose voice will be heard in the 
midst of the tumult, and whose thrilling appeals will seldom 
be rejected. 2 

It would be unwise, at this day, to rake up the ashes of a 
fire that has died out, and to revive animosities whose influ- 
ence was long felt, by arraigning and condemning with undue 
severity the motives and conduct of the unhappy participants 
in the struggle which has been sketched in this chapter. It 
is the province of the historian, indeed, to deal impartially 
with every subject he is required to discuss ; nor is he to con- 
ceal the errors and follies of the past for fear of offending a 
sensitive pride. But it will doubtless be conceded that men 
may honestly differ in opinion in matters of state as well as 
of national policy, without being obnoxious to the imputation 
of seeking their own ends by the ruin of others. In all dis- 
putes, there are faults on both sides ; and rarely does it hap- 
pen that even the best are free from blame. Let us rather 

September 29, 1825, aged 78, having, without the intervention of a munici- 

in 1820, received a pension from the pal monitor." Political Sketches, &c. 

United States government. W. Bar- 34. 

ry's Hist. Framingham, 391. 2 There is matter for profound con- 
1 " The majorities of all societies sideration in the observation of the 
act as^ if they were not governed. Marquis of Beccaria, that " the coun- 
There is in the human heart a princi- tries and times most notorious for 
pie of rectitude, that acts independ- severity of punishments, were always 
ently of civil regulation. The same those in which the most bloody and 
sympathies which knit the first bands inhuman actions, and the most atro- 
of society, and formed man a social cious crimes, were committed; for the 
being, attend his moral character hand of the legislator and of the as- 
through all its progressive stages ; sassin was directed by the same spirit 
and, as they existed without compact of ferocity." 
or choice, so they continue to operate 


chap, rejoice that the consequences of a strife, which was pushed to 
^J^ undue extremities, and which threatened to deluge the country 
1787. with fratricidal blood, were happily averted by a moderation 
unsurpassed in the annals of any nation ; and that, whatever 
errors were committed by the headstrong, and whatever rash 
vows were uttered under the impulse of overheated pas- 
sions, excited to madness by real or conceived wrongs, few 
lives were lost and few homes were desolated ; that the tot- 
tering government lost not at any moment its just equilibrium ; 
and that, to restore public confidence, it was not found neces- 
sary to enact upon the scaffold the terrible scenes which have 
sometimes disgraced civilized nations, and which more often 
aggravate than mitigate the evil it is wished to remove. In 
this case, if in no other, judgment and mercy were happily 
blended ; the limits of forbearance were not overstepped ; and 
peace and tranquillity were once more restored. 



The insurrection in Massachusetts, during its progress, chap 
excited in all parts of the country the liveliest interest ; and, J_^_, 
as the confederation had neither the power nor the means to 1787. 
interfere for its suppression, its indirect effect was to hasten 
the adoption of a national government. The impression, 
which had been gaining ground in every state, that a political 
change was absolutely necessary, was strengthened and con- 
firmed. The gateway of political perdition had been opened ; 
and, as they gazed into the gulf which yawned at their feet, 
where the elements of discord were seething and simmering, 
the most resolute shrank back aghast at the prospect of civil 
disturbances which threatened to convulse society to its cen- 
tre, and which could be checked only by conceding to the 
Union adequate powers for the conservation of peace and 

" Heu, miseri cives ! 
Non hostes, inimicaque castra, 
Vestra spes uritur," 

was the exclamation of the prudent. The nation, it is true, 
had been delivered from the yoke of foreign domination ; but, 
to the thoughtful and considerate, it was evident that, "to 
achieve the independence of a country is but half t>f the great 
undertaking of liberty/' and that, after freedom, to perpetuate 
its blessings " there must come security, order, the wise dis- 
posal of power, and great institutions, on which society may 



chap, repose in safety." x To provide such security, and establish 
w ^L sucn institutions, was the arduous duty of the statesmen of 
1787. America ; and promptly and effectively did they proceed to 
its discharge. 
The Articles of Confederation, prepared from the models 
Nov 7 i5. °f tne Patavian and Helvetic confederacies, and adopted in 
the midst of the war of the revolution, were found, at an early 
date, imperfect in detail, and inadequate to the wants of a 
growing republic. Not only was the public debt a source of 
embarrassment, and not only was it difficult to manage, under 
the old articles, the commerce of the country, especially with 
foreign parts, but the impracticability of remedying these dif- 
ficulties was also apparent, so long as the states, actuated 
by local jealousies, refused to concede to the General Con- 
gress the power to enforce the requisite laws, and negotiate 
the requisite treaties. 2 The vast domain of the nation at the 
west, ceded by New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Con- 
necticut, for the use of the United States, and embracing a 
territory exceeding in dimensions, as well as in fertility, the 
whole of that occupied by the thirteen original colonies, needed 
attention ; and, as the power was wanting to ascertain and 
fix the boundaries of such states as claimed to the Mississippi 
or the South Sea, and to erect beyond those boundaries new 

1 Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 273, the people — civil, judicial, commer- 

274; N. Am. Rev. for July, 1841, cial, religious, and political — widely 

50 ; Hildreth's U. S. iii. 477. The different, but in Rome an aristocracy 

assertion of the Abbe Mably, that the possessed all the dignities, offices, and 

situation of America immediately after emoluments of the state, while the 

the declaration of independence was plebeians were excluded from all share 

similar to that of Rome immediately in the government; nor could the body 

after the expulsion of the Tarquins, of the citizens claim a title to govern, 

does more credit to his scholarship wh # o possessed few rights either of 

than to his sagacity. There was, in- property or person, 
deed, no resemblance in the cases ; 2 For a full discussion of this point, 

for constitutional liberty seems to have see Marshall's Washington, v. 65-80 ; 

been as little understood with the Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 276- 

former as it would have been enjoyed, 288 ; Pitkin's Statistics of the U. S. 

had they adopted a system superior to 28 et seq., and Hist. U. S. ii. 225 et 

their manners and comprehensions, seq. ; Hildreth's U. S. iii. 450, 451. 
Not only were the circumstances of 


and independent states, to be incorporated with the rest, diffi- chap. 
culties had arisen in consequence of conflicting claims, which ^^ 
became a cause of irritation and alarm. 1 The question of 1787. 
slavery had likewise been agitated ; and whether this institu- 
tion, which was regarded with favor by few of the wisest and 
most intelligent statesmen, should be suffered to spread beyond 
the limits to which it had hitherto been confined, and how far 
provision could be successfully made with a view to its gradual 
and general abolition, were points upon which differences of 
opinion existed, which could be amicably settled, in the esti- 
mation of many, only by the adoption of a system of compro- 
mises, trenching but slightly upon the " rights " of the south, 
and harmonizing wjth the "free principles " and " prejudices " 
of the north. 2 But the point, above all others, which excited 
the most serious alarm, was the general inefficacy and impo- 
tency of the confederation. The federal treasury, from the 
lack of an established impost, was in an impoverished condi- 
tion ; the federal authority was but little respected ; its 
ambassadors abroad were " the mere pageants of mimic sov- 
ereignty ; " and it was admitted, on all hands, that, as the 
sovereignty of the states was as powerful as ever, and the 
sovereignty of the nation was in comparison but a shadow, 
the situation of the country was critical and perilous j that 
the government, which "the foot of a child might over- 
throw, but which the hands of giants could not rebuild," was 
tottering to its fall. 3 In this agitation in the councils of 

1 On the North-west Territory, see also Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 299, 
Madison Papers, ii. 639 et seq. ; Brad- 306 ; Hildreth's U. S. iii. 450. 
ford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 42, 43 ; Cur- 3 Madison Papers, ii. 620, 710- 
tis's EQst. of the Const, i. 291-302; 714; Atcheson's Reports, 55; Ham- 
Sparks's Washington, ix. 58-68; Hil- ilton's Works, i. 150-168, 189, 223- 
dreth's U. S. iii. 426, 449, 458, 462. 257, 331-337 ; Niles's Principles and 
Comp. also the Federalist, No. vii., Acts of the Rev. 402-404; Letters 
and Communication of Madison, in from the Federal Farmer, 5, 6 ; the 
Sparks's Washington, viii. 547-549. Federalist, Nos. xv. and xxi. ; N. Am. 

2 On the question of slavery, see Rev. for Oct. 1827, and July, 1841 ; 
Madison Papers, i. 28 et seq., where Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 326. 
the discussion of 1776 is given. See " No man in the United States," wrote 


chap, the nation, with a suspected leaning, in some parts, towards 
^^_ monarchy, and an open prediction, in others, of a partition of 
1787. the states into two or more confederacies, and the fear that 
the project of closing the Mississippi, in accordance with the 
views and wishes of Spain, would sever at least the great west 
from the Union, which would be acceptable to the English 
government, the only remedy which presented itself to those 
who had deliberated upon the aspect and retrospect of the 
affairs of the nation was a general convention, to revise the 
Articles of Confederation, and, if necessary, to frame a consti- 
tution " adequate to the exigencies of the Union.' 7 1 

Should the inference be drawn from the statements just 
made that the people of America were capricious and fickle, 
and that the variety of opinions which was current among 
them was indicative of an impatience of salutary control, that 
inference would be as unjust as time has proved it to be illu- 
sory and deceptive. Nearly three fourths of a century have 
passed since the close of the revolution ; yet, though variety 
of opinion is as prevalent as ever, no serious disturbance has 
hitherto arisen; and, through all the crises of our national 
history, some of which, certainly, have been sufficiently peril- 
ous, the good sense of the community, joined to an unusual 
spirit of forbearance, has enabled us to avoid the shoals upon 
which others have been wrecked, and to resist the pressure of 

Washington to Hamilton, March 31, interested. Works, viii. 412, 443, and 

1783, in Writings, viii. 410, " is or can ix. passim. 

be more deeply impressed with the l Madison Papers, ii. 590-594, 

necessity of a reform in our present 599-602, 606-613, 620, 623-625 ; 

confederation than myself. No man, Sparks's Washington, ix. 173, 205, 

perhaps, has felt the bad effects of it 261; Marshall's Washington, v. 91, 

more sensibly ,• for to the defects 92 ; Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 

thereof, and want of power in Con- 326-331; Hildreth's U. S. hi. 460, 

gress, may justly be ascribed the pro- 464. The earliest sketch on paper 

longation of the war, and consequently of a constitutional government, is said 

the expenses occasioned by it." All to have been given by Madison, in 

his writings, indeed, from this date, his letters to Jefferson, of March 19, 

are full of this theme, — the necessity to Randolph, of April 8, and to Wash- 

of a liberal and extensive plan of gov- ington, of April 16, 1787. Madison 

eminent, — in which he was deeply Papers, ii. 714. 


outward aggressions and of inward commotions. 1 Whether chap 
our government is established beyond the possibility of clanger VIL 
in the future, the wisest prophet cannot tell ; but it may be 1787. 
said that, so long as ,tlle principles of freedom are cherished, 
and so long as our statesmen are actuated by a prudence as 
great, a patriotism as fervent, and a moral principle as sound 
as in former days, it may be reasonably inferred that, what- 
ever dangers may threaten us for a season, they will be happily 
surmounted, and that the fears which have been expressed of 
the stability of the Union will give place to a confidence based 
upon the virtue and intelligence of our citizens. 

The preparatory steps to the calling of a convention were 
taken in Massachusetts, during the administration. of Governor 
Bowdoin. Deeply interested in the commerce of the country, M 178 |, 
his excellency, in his message to the General Court, suggested 
the appointment of special delegates from the states, to settle 
and define the powers with which the national Congress should 
be invested ; and, as the proposal was approved, resolutions 
were passed declaring the inadequacy of the Articles of Con- 
federation, and recommending a convention of the states for 
their revision. A letter was accordingly addressed by the 
governor to the president of Congress, and another to the 
executive of each of the states ; and the resolves were enclosed 
and forwarded to the delegates from Massachusetts, with 

1 " In other revolutions, the sword temper of enthusiasm. It is this 

has been drawn by the arm of offend- union of refinement with the active 

ed freedom, under an oppression that state of civil liberty that will distract 

threatened the vital powers of society, the false theories to which unhappy 

But the American revolution took fortunes have subjected the human 

place as a necessary result of long- character. It is this fact that will 

established opinions. The occasion justify the ways of Heaven, by prov- 

advanced with the progress of usur- ing the consistency of the social na- 

pation; not sudden, not blown into ture with the political happiness of 

existence by the breath of incendia- man. And, from the study of the 

ries ; flowing from the source of sys- American democracies, sophistry will 

tern, and supported by the energies be disarmed of the argument against 

of well-weighed choice, it was moder- pure liberty in the natural endowments 

ate, resolute, irresistible. Hence is of man, which a state of luxury dis- 

to be proved the force of that sense plays." Political Sketches, &c, ed. 

of civil liberty which requires not the 1787,48. 


chap, instructions to lay them before Congress at the earliest oppor- 
J^^ tunity, and to make erery exertion to carry them into effect. 1 
1785. These resolutions, however, were never presented ; for not 
' only was Congress unprepared for such a step, but the dele- 
gates from Massachusetts opposed it as premature. It is, 
perhaps, true, as has been suggested, 2 that " a deep-seated jeal- 
ousy of the radical changes likely to be made in the system 
of the government lay at the foundation of these objections," 
arising from " an apprehension that the convention might be 
composed of persons favorable to an aristocratic system ; or 
that, even if the members were altogether republican in their 
views, there would be great danger of a report which would 
propose an entire remodelling of the government." Hence 
the delegation from Massachusetts, influenced by these fears, 
retained the resolutions of the state for two months before 
replying to the governor's letter ; and the legislature, at their 
Nov.25. instance, annulled their resolutions. 

1785. The course of Virginia, in the adoption of measures 3 re- 
Nov.30. & ' v 

and ferring more immediately to the commerce of the country, and 

Jan. 21. the sagacious and watchful forecast of Hamilton in pressing 

upon New York the appointment of commissioners to attend 

1 Bradford, ii. 241-244. iii. 21 ; recommendation of Bowdoin, and the 

Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 336, strong resolutions of Massachusetts, 

337. Mr. Winthrop, in his Address (then one of the three great states of 

on the Life and Services of James the confederacy,) in 1785, were most 

Bowdoin, Addresses and Speeches, important steps in this momentous 

117-119, discusses the question as to federal movement. They preceded, 

" who is entitled to the honor of by more than a year, the resolutions 

having first urged the enlargement of Virginia, to which so deserved a 

of the powers of Congress for regu- prominence has always been given; 

lating commerce with foreign coun- and they should not be suffered to be 

tries, and for raising a revenue from omitted, as they too often hitherto 

it to support the public credit ; " and have been, from the history of the rise 

though he does not expressly claim and progress of the constitution of 

this honor for Governor Bowdoin, in the United States." 
view of "the danger of setting up 2 Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 338. 
pretensions of priority in great ideas, 3 Madison Papers, ii. 694, 695 

whether of state policy, philosophical Sparks's Washington, ix. 507, 508 

theory, scientific discovery, or me- Marshall's Washington, v. 90, 91 

chanical invention," he observes, "no Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i, 340, 

one can doubt that the earnest official 343. 



a convention to be holden at Annapolis, 1 aided in calling 
attention afresh to the defects of the government ; but this 
convention, when gathered, was found to be too small to 
accomplish any desirable result, and ended with a formal 
proposal to the states, draughted by Hamilton, for calling 
a general convention to take into consideration the situa- 
tion of the country. 2 This recommendation was variously 
received. In Congress, it at first met with very little favor ; 
but in Virginia, it was immediately and cordially approved. 3 
The delegates from Massachusetts objected to it on the ground 
that the legislatures " could not adopt any scheme which might 
be proposed by a convention ; and if it were submitted to the 
people, it was not only doubtful what degree of assent on 
their part would make it valid, but it was also doubtful 
whether they could change the federal constitution by their 
own direct action." To these difficulties, it was also urged, 
was " to be added the further hazard that, if the report of 
the convention should be made to Congress, as proposed, and 
if it should be rejected, fatal consequences would ensue." 4 

Sep. 11. 
Sep. 14. 

Nov. 9 

and 23 

1 Life of Hamilton, ii. 374, 375 ; 
Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 4 ; Brad- 
ford, ii. 253 ; Curtis's Hist, of the 
Const, i. 345, 346. 

2 Madison Papers, ii. 697-703 ; 
Worcester Mag. Nos. 27 and 28, for 
Oct. 1786; Elliot's Debates, i. 116; 
Letters of the Federal Farmer, 7 ; 
Hamilton's Works, i. 432, ii. 336; 
Sparks's Washington, ix. 223, 226, 
513; Marshall's Washington, v. 97; 
Statesman's Manual, ii. 1501-1505; 
the Federalist, No. xl. ; Pitkin's 
Statistics of the U. S. 32 ; N. Am. 
Rev. for Oct. 1827, 261-266; Hil- 
dreth's U. S. iii. 478; Bradford, ii. 
253 ; Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 
347. Five only of the states — New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Del- 
aware, and Virginia — were represent- 
ed in this convention ; four others — 
Massachusetts, N. Hampshire, Rhode 
Island, and North Carolina — ap- 

pointed commissioners, who neglected 
to attend; and the remaining four — 
Connecticut, Maryland, South Caro- 
lina, and Georgia — made no appoint- 
ments. The delegates from Massa- 
chusetts were " Lieutenant Governor 
Cushing, Elbridge Gerry, Francis 
Dana, and Stephen Higginson." Aus- 
tin's Life of Gerry, ii. 5. 

3 Madison Papers, ii. 703-706. 
The resolutions of Virginia were 
draughted by Madison, passed in the 
House November 9, and in the Senate 
November 23, and delegates were 
appointed December 4, 1786. 

4 Madison Papers, ii. 587 ; Journal 
of the Confederation ; Abstract of an 
Address to the Legislature of Mass. 
by Rums King, in the Boston Mag. 
for 1786, 406 ; Curtis's Hist, of the 
Const, i. 355. The proposal for a 
convention was not a new thing, but 
had been suggested so early as 1781, 



chap. The fact, however, that the confederation needed amend- 
s JJ3~L, ments was becoming more evident every day ; and that the 
1787. proposed convention was the most eligible means of effecting 
these changes was equally evident. Congress itself admitted 
these truths ; but, when the report of the grand committee 
Feb. 21. was presented embodying these views, it was objected to by 
many members, and a variety of propositions was submitted 
to obviate these difficulties. 1 A resolution was at length 
introduced by the Massachusetts delegation, and passed, sanc- 
tioning the calling of a convention ; and delegates from all 
the states were chosen to attend it. 2 

The point thus gained was of great importance. It was 
not the design of the statesmen of America to act precipi- 
tately, and cut loose from one form of government, however 
imperfect, without making provision for the establishment 
of a better. The old confederacy, notwithstanding its defects, 
was still revered by the wise and thoughtful for the good it 
had done. In the history of the country, it had proved more 

by Pelatiah Webster ; in 1783, by Col. 
Hamilton; by R. H. Lee, in 1784, 
and by Noah Webster, in the winter 
of 1784-5. Madison Papers, ii. 706 

1 Madison Papers, ii. 587 ; Jour- 
nal of the Confederation ; Madison's 
Notes, in Elliot's Debates, v. 96; 
Sparks's Washington, ix. 510, 513; 
Statesman's Manual, ii. 1505 ; Cur- 
tis's Hist, of the Const, i. 355, 356. 
The report of the grand committee, 
it should be observed, was agreed to 
by a majority of one only, though the 
subject had been long under consider- 
ation. The principal objections to the 
proposed convention were, that it 
tended to weaken the federal author- 
ity, by lending its sanction to an extra 
constitutional mode of proceeding, 
and that the interposition of Congress 
would be considered by the jealous as 
betraying an ambitious wish to get 
power into their hands. 

2 Madison Papers, ii. 589, 590, 

619; Journals, xii. 15-17; Sparks's 
Washington, ix. 246, 247, notes ; El- 
liot's Debates, v. 96 ; Marshall's Wash- 
ington, v. 125 ; Hildreth's U. S. iii. 
478; Statesman's Manual, ii. 1506; 
Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 358. 
Several of the states — as New Jer- 
sey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, 
and Delaware — had appointed then- 
delegates to the convention before it 
was sanctioned by Congress ; and this, 
probably, had some influence upon 
the decision of that body. Madison 
Papers, ii. 617; Elliot's Debates, i. 
126-137. It has been asserted in 
reference to this convention, that the 
members were chosen " for the sole 
and express purpose of revising and 
amending the confederation ; " " not 
a word was said about destroying 
the old constitution and making a 
new one." Letters from the Federal 
Farmer, 7 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, 
ii. 9. 


than " a name with which to conjure ; " it had brought into chap. 
existence and established the independence of the thirteen ^3^L 
United States, and as such was entitled to respectful consider- 1787 
ation. Had it been hastily set aside, and had the nation 
embarked upon the uncertain sea of political experiment, 
anarchy and confusion might have ensued ; for who could tell, 
in such case, " what projects, what schemes, and what influ- 
ences might arise to jeopard those great principles of republi- 
can liberty on which the political fabric had rested from the 
declaration of independence to the present hour of danger 
and distress " ? * * 

But if there was wisdom in the policy which approved the 
convention, it was felt and admitted by the most discerning 
that the failure of that body to agree upon a well-balanced 
system of government adapted to the preexisting system of 
confederated states, capable of pervading the entire country 
with an efficient control, and essentially republican in its prin- 
ciples and form, would result immediately in a dissolution of 
the Union, and an attempt to establish a monarchical govern- 

1 Madison Papers, ii. 589, 590 ; due energy to the government of it. 
Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 363, 364. Mr. Bingham alone avowed his wishes 
" It appeared from the debates," says that the confederacy might be divided 
Madison, " and still more from the into several distinct confederacies, its 
conversation among the members, great extent and various interests be- 
that many of them considered this ing incompatible with a single govern- 
resolution as a deadly blow to the ment. The eastern members were 
existing confederation. Dr. Johnson, suspected of leaning towards some 
who voted against it, particularly de- anti-republican establishment, (the ef- 
clared himself to that effect. Others feet of then late confusions,) or of 
viewed it in the same light, but were being less desirous or hopeful of pre- 
pleased with it as the harbinger of a serving the unity of the empire. For 
better confederation. The reserve of the first time the idea of separate 
many of the members made it difficult confederacies had got into the news- 
to decide their real wishes and expec- papers. It appeared to-day, under 
tations from the present crisis of our the Boston head. Whatever the views 
affairs. All agreed and owned that of the leading men in the Eastern 
the federal government, in its exist- States may be, it would seem that the 
ing shape, was inefficient, and could great body of the people, particularly 
not last long. The members from the in Connecticut, are equally indisposed 
Southern and Middle States seem either to dissolve the confederacy, or 
generally anxious for some republican to submit to any anti-republican in- 
organization of the system, which novations." 
would preserve the Union, and give 


chap. ment. The consequences of such an attempt it was frightful 
J^J^ to contemplate. Civil war and social convulsions must inevi- 
1787. tably ensue ; for could it be supposed that the people, who 
had long been jealous of arbitrary power, and who had fought 
seven years to secure their freedom, would surrender it at the 
dictation of a portion of the community? To count upon 
such surrender by peaceable means was to charge the people 
with preposterous madness ; nay, it would have been an evi- 
dence of such imbecility on their part as to have proved them 
unworthy of the blessings of liberty. 1 Happily for the coun- 
try, the views of those whose hopes predominated over their 
fears were not doomed to be disappointed, nor was the con- 
vention itself destined to fail. The talent it embraced was a 
pledge of its success ; for if a Washington, a Madison, a Ham- 
ilton, a Franklin, a Morris, a Pinckney, a Randolph, a Wilson, 
a Gerry, a Strong, a Dana, a King, a Sherman, a Livingston, 
a Dickinson, were incompetent as " cunning artificers," to 
whom could the country look with more confidence ? They 
were the men who had shared in its perils. Their own inter- 
ests and the interests of their posterity were involved. And 
if they failed, it was hopeless — nay, useless — to expect others 
to succeed. 2 

Under these auspices, though many were doubtful of the 

1 Hamilton's "Works, i. 435 ; Mar- whether they are agreed to or not. 
shall's Washington, v. 94—97, es- A conduct of this kind will stamp 
pecially 96 ; Letters of the Federal wisdom and dignity on their proceed- 
Farmer, 6. " It gives me great pleas- ings, and hold up a light which sooner 
ure," wrote Washington, Writings, ix. or later will have its influence." 
250, " to hear that there is a proba- 2 Comp. Sparks's Washington, ix. 
bility of a full representation of the 223-236, 258, 260, 508-520 ; Cur- 
states in convention ; but if the dele- tis's Hist, of the Const, i. 366-370 *, 
gates come to it under fetters, the the Federalist, No. ii. For a list of 
salutary ends proposed will be greatly the delegates, see Statesman's Man- 
embarrassed and retarded, if not al- ual, ii. 1507 ; Curtis's Hist, of the 
together defeated. I am desirous of Const, i. 516-518. The members from 
knowing how this matter is, as my Massachusetts were Francis Dana, 
wish is that the convention may adopt Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, 
no temporizing expedients, but probe Rums King, and Caleb Strong ; but 
the defects of the constitution to the Mr. Dana did not attend, 
bottom, and provide a radical cure, 


tendency of the experiment, and some questioned the legiti- chap. 
macy of the meeting, the convention assembled in Phila- J^L 
delphia, and, on the motion of Robert Morris, of Pennsylva- 1787. 
nia, was organized by the choice of George Washington for 
president. 1 There was little for the statesmen of that clay to 
look to, in the history of other nations, in the ^ay of theories 
which had been practically proved to be sound and useful. 2 
They must originate for themselves a consolidated system 
adapted to the wants of their country. And it is proof of 
their wisdom, and of the extent of their political knowledge, 
that time and experience have abundantly demonstrated the 
general excellence of the system devised, and that few altera- 
tions have since been required in it. They came to the task 
with a consciousness of the difficulties besetting their path, but 
with a full determination to act for the interests of the entire 
republic. Personal preferences might be urged, and the freest 
interchange of opinion was desirable. But no one could insist 
upon, nor did any one press, the adoption of his own views, to 
the exclusion of all others. It was the council of the nation, 
the arbiter of the destinies of unborn millions. Every thing 
depended upon the wisdom of its measures, and upon the con- 
ciliatory spirit which governed its deliberations. The assem- 

1 Madison Papers, ii. 635, 643, as that on which the. revolution took 
721 et seq. ; Marshall's Washington, place in America, where the people, 
v. 98 et seq. ; Statesman's Manual, ii. by their own act, without any usur- 
1506. Sixty-five persons were elected pation or turn of parties, on a sudden 
members of the convention; and of found themselves in a state of the 
these, fifty-five attended its sessions, most civilized and complicated asso- 
Six of the number had affixed their ciations, without government ; and in 
signature to the Declaration of Inde- that state formed the original con- 
pendence. Austin's Life of Gerry, vention, on grounds of undisputed 
ii. 9. equality ; framed a form of civil gov- 

2 " Never was there, before the ernment, founded in the rights of 
American revolution, an instance of a nature, unobscured by charters, privi- 
nation forming its own government leges, or monopolies of power; and 
on the original foundations of human then bound themselves by the third 
rights, revealed by a study of the laws and last tie of allegiance. The demo- 
of nature, and creating every civil cratic form was the only one a people 
organ agreeably to the three acts so situated could adopt." Political 
which constitute just government. Sketches, inscribed to his Excellency 
Never did there exist such a scene John Adams, &c, 5, 6, ed. 1787. 



chap, bly could be useful only in proportion to its superiority to 
s ^^_i^, partial views and interests. 1 
1787. The rules of the convention were copied chiefly from those 
of Congress. No state was allowed to cast more than one 
vote, and seven states constituted a quorum for business. The 
sessions were # be held with closed doors ; and the whole 
proceedings were to be kept secret — so much so that the 
members were prevented from corresponding freely and confi- 
dentially with eminent political characters in the different 
states upon the subjects under consideration ; nor were they 
allowed even to take copies of resolutions, or of the entries 
on the journal, " without formally moving for and obtaining 
permission, by a vote of the convention for that purpose." 2 
Delegates from less than seven states were present on the 
May 14. day appointed for the opening of the convention, nor was it 
May 25. until eleven days after that that number appeared ; but early 
June 2. in June, eleven states were represented by about fifty dele- 
gates, who were among the most distinguished men of the 
country. 3 Three parties, it was soon found, existed among 

1 Comp. Madison Papers, ii. 621. 
There is a slight degree of rhetorical 
embellishment in the statement of 
Judge Jay, Federalist, No. ii., that, 
"in the mild season of peace, with 
minds unoccupied by other subjects, 
they passed many months in cool, un- 
interrupted, and daily consultations ; 
and finally, without having been awed 
by power, or influenced by any pas- 
sion, except love for their country, 
they presented and recommended to 
the people the plan produced by their 
joint and very unanimous counsels." 
It was a season of peace in one sense ; 
but the waves were surging as at sea 
after a storm. The debates were not 
always " cool and uninterrupted ; " 
passion was not always dormant and 
quiet ; nor was the plan produced by 
a "very unanimous counsel." If, 
however, all this is admitted, it was 
not altogether " so much of a lucky 

accident" that the new constitution 
was framed. It was something more 
than an accident, nor would it have 
occurred had there not been wisdom 
at the bottom. Comp. N. Am. Rev. 
for July, 1841, 43. 

2 Madison Papers, ii. 724-726, 728; 
Martin's Speech before the Legis. of 
Md., in Secret Proceedings, &c, 4, 
32 ; N. Am. Rev. for July, 1841, 53 ; 
Marshall's Washington, v. 128 ; Hil- 
dreth's U. S. iii. 482. Notwithstand- 
ing these restrictions, several of the 
members took notes of the proceed- 
ings of the convention ; and those of 
Yates, of New York, and Madison, of 
Virginia, have since been published. 
The Journal has also been published, 
by order of Congress. 

3 The states represented on the 
25th were New York, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, 
North Carolina, and South Carolina, 


the members, of exceedingly different sentiments and views, chap. 
To the first belonged those " whose object and wish it was to ^^, 
abolish and annihilate all state governments, and to bring 1787. 
forward one general government, over this extensive conti- 
nent, of a monarchical nature, under certain restrictions and 
limitations.*' The second " was not for the abolition of the 
state governments, nor for the introduction of a monarchical 
government under any form ; but they wished to establish 
such a system as could give their own states undue power and 
influence in the government over the other states." And the 
third, which was " considered truly federal and republican," 
was " nearly equal in number with the other two, and was 
composed of the delegates from Connecticut, New York, New 
Jersey, Delaware, and in part from Maryland, also of some 
individuals from other representations." 1 

It is foreign to the province of this history to '"elate circum- 
stantially the proceedings of this convention. It is only 
necessary to say that its sessions were continued for the space 
of four months ; that its debates were spirited, and occasion- 

with one each from Massachusetts and as the constitution reported proposes 

Georgia ; the other delegates from to vest in them. The young, visionary 

Massachusetts, and those from Con- men, and the consolidating aristocracy, 

necticut, and other states, appeared would have been more restrained than 

on the 28th ; and the rest took then they have been." 
seats from the 29th of May to the 9th 1 Martin's Speech to the Legis. of 

of June. Madison Papers, ii. 721 et McL, in Secret Proceedings, &c. 13, 

seq. ; Yates, in Secret Proceedings, 14. Comp. N. Am. Rev. for July, 

&c. A 99-101, 103, 105 ; Letters from 1841, 52, 53 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, 

the Federal Farmer, 8. "The non- ii. 19, 20 ; the Olive Branch, by M. 

attendance," says the latter authority, Carey, 81, ed. 1817. The favorers of 

" of eight or nine men, who were ap- a monarchical government were not 

pointed members of the convention, very numerous, nor did they press 

I shall ever consider as a very un- their views with great pertinacity, 

fortunate event to the United States. " The ideas of men who speculate upon 

Had they attended, I am pretty clear the dismemberment of the empire," 

that the result of the convention would as is said in the Federalist, No. xiii., 

not have been that strong tendency " seem generally turned towards three 

to aristocracy now discernible in every confederacies ; one consisting of the 

part of the plan. There would not four Northern, another of the four 

nave been so great an accumulation Middle, and a third of the five South- 

of powers, especially as to the internal em States." 
police of the country, in a few hands, 
VOL. III. 18 


chap, ally spicy ; that, in more than one instance, there was danger 
J^^ of a dissolution without the accomplishment of the business 
1787. for which it had assembled ; 1 and that nothing but the cool- 
ness and gravity of the prudent, and the consciousness of the 
necessity of a spirit of compromise, persuaded the members to 
yield punctilious points of honor, and to forget the individual 
and the inordinate pride of state importance for the one great 
purpose of national union. 2 It is easy for the philosopher to 
frame, in his study, a theory of government which shall seem 
to himself a perfect Utopia ; but practical statesmen find some 
difficulties in attempting to harmonize the visions of specu- 
latists, and in evolving from the Babel-like " confusion of 
tongues " a judicious, a well-balanced, and pertinent system, 
adapted to the wants of a living community, and capable of 
being carried into efficient operation. It is a mistake to sup- 
pose that the science of government can be learned by the 
brightest mind in a few hours' study. For its just compre- 
hension, a varied experience is needed — an experience based 
upon a life-long acquaintance with the nature of man ; a liberal 
culture, which has sprung from the survey of the history of 
the past, of all the great nations of ancient and modern times j 

1 Hamilton's Works, i. 437. able articles into the new system, in- 

2 Marshall's Washington, v. 129 ; stead of ingrafting the latter on the 
Letters from the Federal Farmer, 8. former. I am not sure that it will be 
" The plan proposed," says the latter, practicable to present the several parts 
" is a plan of accommodation ; and it of the reform in so detached a man- 
is only in this way, and by giving up ner to the states, as that a partial 
a part of our opinions, that we can adoption will be binding. Particular 
ever expect to obtain a government states may view different articles as 
founded in freedom and compact." conditions of each other, and would 
Madison also wrote to Edmund Ran- only ratify them as such. Others 
dolph, April 8, 1787, in Madison Pa- might ratify them as independent 
pers, ii. 631, " I am perfectly of your propositions. The consequence would 
opinion, that, in framing a system, no be that the ratifications of both would 
material sacrifices ought to be made go for nothing. In truth, my ideas 
to local or temporary prejudices. I of a reform strike so deeply at the old 
think, with you, that it will be well to confederation, and lead to such a 
retain as much as possible of the old systematic change, that they scarcely 
confederation, though I doubt whether admit of the expedient." 

it may not be best to work the valu- 


and that intuitive discernment and keen-sighted sagacity which chap. 
can hold in their grasp the subtilest elements of political power, J^^ 
until the whole are resolved into definite forms. No one man 1787. 
can be expected to possess such various knowledge in so emi- 
nent a degree as to entitle his opinions to be regarded as 
infallible. The combined experience of a number of men is 
needed to frame a system of government adapted to a free 
country, with its diversified interests. " Hence it is," as has 
been truly observed, " that, wherever this mighty work is to 
be successfully accomplished, there must be a high sense of jus- 
tice ; a power of concession ; the qualities of magnanimity 
and patriotism ; and that broad moral sanity of the intellect 
which is farthest removed from fanaticism, intolerance, or self- 
ish adhesion either to interest or to opinion." * Happily for the 
country, these qualities were possessed in an eminent degree 
by the members of the federal convention and the framers of 
the constitution. That instrument was the product of their 
united deliberations. It was not hastily and blindly project- 
ed. It was matured and perfected by the suggestions of all. 
Every point in it was subjected to scrutiny ; every article was 
thoroughly scanned. And when the scheme was completed, it 
was concurred in by the whole. 2 

1 Curtis's Hist, of the Const, i. 387. 2 Comp. N. Am. Rev. for July, 
"High qualities of character are 1841, 52, and Letters of the Federal 
requisite to the formation of a system Farmer, 4. " Whatever," says Mad- 
of government for a wide country ison, Papers, ii. 718, 719, "may be 
with different interests. Mere talent the judgment pronounced on the com- 
will not do it. Intellectual power and petency of the architects of the con- 
ingenuity alone cannot compass it. stitution, or whatever may be the 
There must be a moral completeness destiny of the edifice prepared by 
in the characters of those who are to them, I feel it a duty to express my 
achieve such a work ; for it does not profound and solemn conviction, de- 
consist solely in devising schemes, or rived from my intimate opportunity 
creating offices, or parcelling out ju- of observing and appreciating the 
risdictions and powers. There must views of the convention, collectively 
be the recognition and admission of and individually, that there never was 
great expedients, and the sacrifice, an assembly of men, charged with a 
often, of darling objects of ambition, great and arduous trust, who were 
or of local policy, to the vast central more pure in their motives, or more 
purpose of the greatest happiness of exclusively or anxiously devoted to 
the greatest number." the object committed to them, than 


The principal points of debate in the convention related 
to the ratio of representation and the rule of voting in the 
1787. national legislature ; the term for which officers should respec- 
tively be chosen, and the mode of their choice ; the constitu- 
tion of the executive — whether of one person or more, the 
grounds of eligibility, and the mode of election ; the constitu- 
tion of the judiciary, with the appointment of the judges ; and 
the general powers which should be conferred upon the gov- 
ernment in its relations to the states, and for national pur- 
poses. 1 On the first of these points, the debates took a wide 
range, and the interests involved were found to be so compli- 
cated that the utmost prudence was required to effect even an 
approximation to unity. One disturbing element was the 
question of slavery ; a northern and a southern party were 
speedily developed ; and the discussion was marked with con- 
siderable rancor. Should slaves be recognized as persons in 
the constitution? Should the institution of slavery be sanc- 
tioned by the government ? Should the slave trade be toler- 
ated, and the evils resulting from it be continued and perpetu- 
ated ? These questions, though not specifically raised, were 
involved in the discussion, and in their decision the south had 
a special interest. Negroes were esteemed a portion of their 
wealth, as valuable to them as the wealth of a freeman. With- 
out them, they contended, it would be impossible to live. And 
if, it was urged, the north expected " those preferential dis- 
tinctions in commerce, and other advantages," which they 
would derive from the connection, they " must not expect to 
receive them without allowing some advantages in return. 
Eleven out of the thirteen states had agreed to consider slaves 

were the members of the federal con- and best secure the permanent liberty 

vention of 1787, to the object of de- and happiness of their country." 

vising and preparing a constitutional x Comp. Madison Papers, ii. 631— 

system which should best supply the 634, and 747 et seq. 

defects of that which it was to replace 


in the apportionment of taxation ; and taxation and represen- chap. 
tation ought to go together." l s-Z2w 

To meet this point, it was at first proposed, by Mr. Butler, 1787. 
of South Carolina, to consider blacks as equal to whites in 
the apportionment of representation ; but this was rejected by 
a vote of seven to three, and the three fifths clause was pro- 
posed as a compromise. To this, however, Mr. King objected, 
and " thought the admission of them along with whites, at all, 
would excite great discontents among the states having no 
slaves." Mr. Wilson "had some apprehensions, also, from the 
tendency of the blending of the blacks with the whites, to 
give disgust to the people of Pennsylvania." Gouverneur 
Morris " could never agree to give such encouragement to the 
slave trade as would be given them by allowing them a rep- 
resentation for their negroes." And when the question was 
taken, Delaware, Maryland, and even South Carolina, with 
Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, voted in the 
negative. Davie, of North Carolina, then " thought it was 
high time to speak out. He saw that it was meant by some 
gentlemen to deprive the Southern States of any share of rep- 
resentation for their blacks. He was sure that North Caro- 

1 Madison Papers, ii. 686 et seq. ; should have any weight. M. Le 

1054 et seq. ; Hildreth's U. S. ch. xlvii. Poivre, late envoy from the King of 

The question of the necessity of France to the King of Cochin China, 

slave labor at the south is ably dis- and now intendant of the Isles of 

cussed by Benjamin Rush, in his Bourbon and Mauritius, in his obser- 

pamphlet, published at Philadelphia, vations upon the manners and arts of 

in 1773, entitled " An Address to the the various nations in Africa and 

Inhabitants of the British Settlements Asia, has the following remarks : ' It 

in America upon Slave Keeping." is worthy of observation, too, that the 

" It has been urged," he says, " by sugar cane is there cultivated by free- 

the inhabitants of the Sugar Islands men, and all the process of prepara- 

and South Carolina, that it would be tion and refining, the work of free 

impossible to carry on the manufac- hands. Compare, then, the price of 

tures of sugar, rice, and indigo, with- the Cochin Chinese production with 

out negro slaves. JYb manufactory the same commodity which is culti- 

can ever be of consequence enough to vated and prepared by the wretched 

society to admit the least violation of slaves of our European colonies, and 

the laws of justice or humanity. But judge if, to procure sugar from our 

I am far from thinking the arguments colonies, it was necessary to authorize 

used in favor of employing negroes by law the slavery of the unhappy 

for the cultivation of these articles Africans transported to America.' " 


chap, lina would never confederate on any terms that did not rate 

% J^^ them at least as tjiree fifths. If the Eastern States meant, 

1787. therefore, to exclude them altogether, the business was at an 

end. 77 On this, the motion for the three fifths clause was 

renewed by Ellsworth, of Connecticut, modified by Randolph, 

and, in the end, it was carried by a vote of six to two. 1 

On the question of the slave trade, there was less difference 
of opinion ; for the sentiment was common to Virginia and 
the Northern States " that slavery was cruel and unjust — in 
plain violation of the rights of man proclaimed as the founda- 
tion of the revolution, and inconsistent with the doctrines 
assumed as the basis of the American constitutions. 77 2 Vir- 
ginia and Maryland, indeed, were especially " opposed to the 
African slave trade ; " and, as the delegates from the Middle 
and Eastern States concurred in these views, there seemed, at 
one time, a reasonable prospect that the trade might be pro- 
hibited. But Georgia and South Carolina entertained a dif- 
ferent opinion, and were " fully determined to maintain, not 
the institution of slavery only, but the African slave trade 
also ; " and, as Massachusetts was anxious " about navigation 
laws, 77 and Pennsylvania was concerned " about the taxation 
of exports, 77 and Connecticut was " willing to make almost 
any sacrifice for the sake of getting others to agree, 77 a " bar- 

1 Martin, in Secret Proceedings, it would be with the horses and mules 

&c, 42, 43 ; Yates, in ibid. 122 ; of the Eastern." Ibid. 43. And Mr. 

Madison Papers, ii. 1076-1087; Hil- Patterson very pertinently asked, "if 

dreth's U. S. iii. 499-501. It was negroes are not represented in the 

said, in the debate on this clause, that states to which they belong, why 

the taking of slaves into computation should they be represented in the 

in apportioning the number of repre- national government ? " Madison 

sentatives, "involved the absurdity of Papers, ii. 1055. 

increasing the power of a state in 2 " Future ages," observes Benja- 

making laws for freemen, in propor- min Rush, in his Address on Slave 

tion as that state violated the rights Keeping, 9, ■" when they read the ac- 

of freedom." Secret Proceedings, counts of the slave trade, if they do 

&c, 42. One of the Massachusetts not regard them as fabulous, will be 

delegation also observed, that " he at a loss which to condemn most, 

considered it as dishonorable and hu- our folly or our guilt in abetting this 

miliating to enter into compact with direct violation of the laws of nature 

the slaves of the Southern States, as and religion." 



gain w was struck up between " the Northern and the Southern chap. 
States," which, until the year 1808, allowed the unrestrained _^3-L 
migration or importation of such persons as the states might 1787. 
see fit to receive — subject, however, to the imposition of a 
duty by Congress, the maximum of which was fixed at ten 
dollars. 1 

One other measure was desired by the south, relating to the 
rendition of fugitive slaves. The motion to include such with 
fugitives from justice was introduced by Butler, of South Car- 
olina, and seconded by his colleague, Charles Pinckney ; and, 
availing themselves of the phraseology of one of the old arti- 
cles of the New England confederation of 1643, with slight 
alterations to adapt it to their purpose, the " famous clause " 
was presented, which provides that " no person held to service 
or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into 
another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, 

1 Martin, in Secret Proceedings, 
&c, 62-U6; Madison Papers, iii. ; 
Hildreth's U. S. iii. 508-520. It is 
worthy of notice in this connection, 
that the Continental Congress had 
resolved "that no slave be import- 
ed into any of the United States ; " 
that Delaware, by her constitution. 
and Virginia and Maryland, by special 
laws, had prohibited the importation 
of slaves ; and that similar prohibi- 
tions were in force in all the more 
northern states, though they " did 
not prevent the merchants of those 
states from carrying on the slave trade 
elsewhere, and already some New 
England ships were engaged in an 
infamous traffic from the coast of 
Africa to Georgia and the Carolinas." 
The views of Madison on this clause 
of the constitution may be learned 
from the Federalist, No. xlii. "It 
were doubtless to be wished," says 
he, " that the power of prohibiting 
the importation of slaves had not 
been postponed until the year 1808, 
or rather, that it had been suffered to 
have immediate operation. But it is 

not difficult to account, either for this 
restriction on the general govern- 
ment, or for the manner in which the 
whole cause is expressed. It ought 
to be considered as a great point 
gained in favor of humanity, that a 
period of twenty years may terminate 
forever, within these states, a traffic 
which has so long and so loudly up- 
braided the barbarism of modern pol- 
icy; that within that period, it will 
receive a considerable discouragement 
from the federal government, and may 
be totally abolished, by a concurrence 
of the free states which continue the 
unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory 
example which has been given by so 
great a majority of the Union. Happy 
would it be for the unfortunate Afri- 
cans, if an equal prospect lay before 
them, of being redeemed from the 
oppression of their European breth- 
ren." The " vexed question " of the 
slave trade was early agitated in the 
new Congress, and debated with some 
warmth. Hildreth's U. S. 2d series, 
i. 91-96 


chap, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be deliv- 
ered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor 
may be due." 1 

Thus the question of slavery had been presented in a three- 
fold form, and on each the south had carried their point. 
The legality of slavery in the slave states was virtually recog- 
nized ; the slave trade itself was licensed for twenty years ; 
and fugitive slaves were to be returned to their masters. 2 
How far such compromises were justified by circumstances 
wise men have found it difficult to decide. It should be re- 
membered, however, that, if the measures were wrong, involv- 
ing a sacrifice of moral principle, the north was to blame for 
sanctioning that wrong, and is justly obnoxious to the conse- 
quences of its misconduct. Ellsworth was no true prophet in 
predicting that, in time, " slavery will not be a speck in our 
country." It has multiplied sevenfold, and is, without, doubt, 
one of the most serious evils in the nation. Whether it will 
ever be peaceably abolished, or whether it will continue to 
expand and increase, diffusing abroad a moral miasma, to taint 
and corrupt the whole body politic, are questions which are 
certainly of vital importance. But may we not hope that a 
merciful God will open a way, in accordance with the spirit 
of the gospel of Christ, by which the country may be rid of 
this evil, without the intervention of a violence which could 
end only in the dismemberment of the Union, or in an exas- 
peration of feeling which would rankle so deeply as to banish 
forever brotherly love ? This is the problem for the statesmen 
of the nineteenth century : who does not pray that it may be 
happily solved ? To a certain extent the issue is sectional ; 
nor can this be avoided while slavery exists. The antagonism 
of freedom and slavery is perpetual. Fire and water are not 

1 Hildreth's U. S. iii. 522. in the constitution itself; for not a 

2 These statements are to be under- word about slavery is said in that 
stood rather of the effects of the meas- instrument. 

ures adopted than of specific clauses 


more opposite. And as one or the other must gain the chap. 
ascendency, which shall it be ? There is force in the opinion J^^ 
which is fast gaining ground, that " freedom is national, while 1787. 
slavery is sectional." l 

The result of the convention was the adoption of a constitu- Sep. 17. 
tion, which was laid before Congress, and submitted to con- Sep. 28. 
ventions of the people in the different states for adoption or 
rejection. 2 The convention in Massachusetts " for the purpose 
of assenting to and ratifying the constitution recommended by 
the grand federal convention," convened at Boston, on the 
ninth of the following January, and continued in session for T 1788 - 

J an, y 

nearly a month. The members of this body, over three hun- Feb. 7. 
dred and fifty in number, were among the most eminent men 
in the state — comprising as well a portion of those who had 
served at Philadelphia as many who were engaged in the con- 
vention for framing the constitution of Massachusetts, and 
others, not inferior in intellectual ability, from the various 
walks of social life. 3 

The first business was to organize ; and this was effected by 
the choice of Governor Hancock as president, Judge William 
Cushing as vice president, George Richards Minot, Esq., as 
secretary, and Jacob Kuhn as messenger, who for nearly fifty 

1 " It is a truth denied by few, at The ratification of the conventions of 
the present day, that political and nine states was to be sufficient for the 
domestic slavery are inconsistent with establishment of this constitution be- 
justice, and that these must neces- tween the states so ratifying the same, 
sarily wage eternal war; so that, For Arthur Lee's opinion of this 
wherever the latter exists in perfec- instrument, see his Letter to John 
tion, the former must fly before her, Adams, October 3, 1787, in Adams's 
or fall prostrate at her feet." Dis- "Works, ix. 554, 000. 

course ofRev. Samuel Miller, preached 3 For a list of the delegates, see 

in New York, July 4, 1793, 19. the Debates, &c, 225-229. This 

2 Statesman's Manual, ii. 1506; convention was recommended to be 
Sparks's Washington, ix. 267-269. held by the Senate, October 20, and 
For the draught of the constitution by the House, October 25, 1787 ; and 
as thus submitted, see the Pamphlet, the date assigned for its assembling 
published in 1787, to be circulated in was the 2d Wednesday in the folio w- 
Massachusetts, and comp. Madison ing January. See the Const, of the 
Papers, ii. and ill- , and Debates in U. S., published in 1787, 18-20. 

the Mass. Convention, ed. 1808, 3-20. 


chap, years served as messenger to the General Court. 1 By the 

\j kindness of the church, the sessions of the convention were 

1788. held at first in the meeting house still standing on Brattle 
Street — a venerable edifice, in the walls of which is fixed a 
cannon ball discharged by the Americans during the siege of 
Boston, and which is said to be inserted in the place where the 
ball struck. 2 This house, however, " on account of the diffi- 
culty of hearing," was " found inconvenient/ 7 and the conven- 
Jan. u. tion adjourned to the representatives' chamber, in the Old 
State House, at the corner of State and Washington Streets, 
and from thence, at a later date, to the " meeting house in 
Long Lane." 3 

The motion preliminary to the general discussion was made 
by Caleb Strong, afterwards governor of the state ; and, at 
his instance, it was voted " that this convention, sensible how 
important it is that the great subject submitted to their deter- 
mination should be discussed and considered with moderation, 
candor, and deliberation, will enter into a free conversation 
on the several parts thereof, by paragraphs, until every mem- 
ber shall have had opportunity to express his sentiments on 
the same ; after which the convention will consider and de- 
bate at large the question whether this convention will adopt 
and ratify the proposed constitution, before any vote is taken 
expressive of the sense of the convention upon the whole or 
any part thereof." 4 

Upon the first section of the first article there was " a short 
conversation ; " but the first paragraph of the second section, 

1 Of this venerable man, all who gentlemanly sergeant-at-arms, has 

knew him spoke in terms of the ut- held his office for twenty-two years, 

most respect. Quiet and unobtru- and has recently entered upon his 

sive, yet gentlemanly in his manners, twenty-third term, 
and distinguished for his courtesy and 2 Lothrop's Hist, of Brattle Street 

his impartiality, he retained his post Church. 

through various political changes, and 3 Debates, &c, 25, 61. "Long 
his death was lamented as a public Lane " is now known as Federal 
loss — the loss of an able and useful Street; and the meeting house re- 
man. His successor, Mr. Benjamin ferred to is the Federal Street Church. 
Stevens, the present courteous and 4 Debates, &c, 25, 26. 


relating to the constitution of the House of Representatives, chap. 
and especially the matter of "biennial elections," caused " a ^J^, 
lengthy debate." x In Massachusetts, annual elections had been 1788. 
11 the practice of the state ever since its first settlement ; " and 
it was contended by Dr. Taylor that this " had been consid- 
ered as the safeguard of the liberties of the people, and the 
annihilation of it the avenue through which tyranny would 
enter." 2 The Hon. Mr. White also " thought the security of 
the people lay in frequent elections," and declared that, for his 
part, " he would rather they should be for six months than for 
two years." 3 Mr. Turner, of Scituate, thought that " nature 
pointed out the propriety of annual elections by its annual 
renewal ; " but it was observed, in reply, by Governor Bow- 
doin, that, " if the revolution of the heavenly bodies was to be 
the principle to regulate elections, it was not fixed to any 
period ; as, in some of the systems, it would be very short, and 
in the last discovered planet it would be eighty of our years." 4 
The friends of biennial elections were more numerous than 
the opponents of the measure, and argued in its defence with 
signal ability. Mr. Sedgwick observed that " annual elections 
in a single state might be best, for a variety of reasons ; " but 
when the great affairs of thirteen states were considered, such 
a period, in his estimation, was too short. 5 Mr. Dawes re- 
marked that " the right of electing representatives in the 
Congress was the acquisition of a new privilege by the people, 
and therefore in their favor, even if the representatives were 
chosen for forty, instead of for two years." 6 The speech of 

1 Debates, &c, 26. like usurpation. He considered an- 

2 Debates, &c, 27, and comp. ibid, nual elections as the only defence of 
46. See also the remarks of Elbridge the people against tyranny. He was 
Gerry, in the federal convention, in as much against a triennial house as 
Madison Papers, ii. 847. " The peo- against a hereditary executive." 

pie of New England will never give 3 Debates, &c, 28. Comp. ibid. 

up the point of annual elections. They 45,54. 

know of the transition made in Eng- 4 Debates, &c, 35. Comp. ibid. 38. 

land from triennial to septennial 5 Debates, &c, 27. 

elections, and will consider such an 6 Debates, &c, 28. 

innovation here as the prelude to a 


CHAP. Fisher Ames is reported in full, and was an eloquent plea in 
^J3^ favor of the clause, based upon the ground, that, whatever 
1788. reasons could be urged in favor of annual, as good, if not bet- 
ter, could be offered in favor of biennial, elections. 1 The speech 
of General Heath was eminently characteristic. He " consid- 
ered himself a citizen of the United States,' 7 and his " ideas 
and views were commensurate with the continent — extending 
in length from the St. Croix to the St. Maria, and in breadth 
from the Atlantic to the Lake of the Woods ; for over all this 
extensive territory was the federal government to be extend- 
ed." Still, although he was of opinion — quoting from Mon- 
tesquieu — that " the greatness of power must be compensated 
by the brevity of the duration ; most legislators have fixed 
it for a year ; a longer space would be dangerous," he was 
ready to favor the clause as it stood, because Congress was to 
" sit but once annually," and as much business in each session 
would be left unfinished, for the same representatives to con- 
sider and complete such business would be " a great saving of 
expense, which would otherwise be lost." 2 General Brooks, 
with a comprehensive wisdom, observed that no instance had 
been cited in which biennial elections had proved " destructive 
to the liberties of the people ; " that the Parliaments in Eng- 
land had been triennial and septennial, " yet life, liberty, and 
property, it was generally conceded, were nowhere better 
secured than in Great Britain." 3 Mr. Gore took another 
view of the subject, and thought the term " frequent " was 
as justly applicable to biennial as to annual elections, if 
the extent of the interests involved was remembered ; and 
that two years was " a short time for the representatives to 
hold their office." 4 The Hon. Rufus King, one of the mem- 
bers of the federal convention, and a gentleman of distin- 

1 Debates, &c, 30-35 ; Ames's 2 Debates, &c, 36-38. 
Works, ed. 1809, 20-25 ; Carey's 3 Debates, &c, 38, 39. 
Am. Museum for 1788, iii. 358-362. 4 Debates, &c, 40-42. 


guislied ability and talent, explained the grounds on which ne chap. 
favored the clause, and concurred with Mr. Gore that two ^J]^ 
years was " short enough for a representative in Congress. 1788. 
If one year was necessary for a representative to be useful in 
the state legislature, where the objects of his deliberation 
were local, and within his constant observation, two years did 
not appear too long where the objects of deliberation were 
not confined to one state, but extended to thirteen states." 1 
Judge Dana took the same view, and pleaded from his own 
experience in favor of the expediency of " biennial elections 
of federal representatives," as " preferable to annual elec- 
tions." 2 

The discussion thus far had developed the fact that the 
fourth section of the first article was intimately connected 
with the second ; and both were, accordingly, considered 
together. 3 The principal objection to this section was, that 
it did not limit the power of Congress. It might be well 
enough, it was said, to concede the power to direct the time 
and place of choosing representatives, in case of neglect or 
failure on the part of any state ; but, if no limit was assigned, 
great inconveniences, and even grievances, might arise ; nay, 
Congress might control the election of representatives. But 
it was urged, in reply, that the power to regulate the election 
of representatives must be lodged somewhere ; and where 
could it be more safely lodged than in the General Congress ? 
The democratic branch of the national government, chosen by 
the people, was designed to be a check on the federal branch, 
chosen by the states. Hence, if the state legislatures were 
allowed conclusively to regulate the elections of the democratic 

1 Debates, &c, 42-44. of; but the Congress may at any time 

2 Debates, &c., 45. See also the by law make or alter such regulations, 
Federalist, Nos. hi. liii. except as to the places of choosing 

3 This section read as follows : senators." Hence a uniform rule was 
"The times, place, and manner of early established for all the states, 
holding elections for senators and providing for the choice of represen- 
representatives shall be prescribed tatives on the second Monday in No- 
in each state by the legislature there- vember. 





chap, branch, they might, by such an interference, at first weaken, and 
at last destroy, the federal branch, and diminish and annihilate 
that control of the general government which the people ought 
always to have through their immediate representatives. The 
possibility of the abuse of a measure, it was said, was no 
argument against its adoption, unless the measure itself was 
absolutely dangerous. But this was not contended, that the 
measure was dangerous. No power is conceded of wresting 
from the people the right of regulating the elections. Con- 
gress could not, in any case, strip the people of this right. It 
was theirs inalienably. They could only regulate the exercise 
of this right ; and this it was proper they should do, or other 
and greater evils might eventually ensue. An argument that 
proves too much proves nothing. And might not this be said 
of the argument against the fourth section ? 1 

The question of a property qualification was next referred 
to ; and some contended that such a qualification ought to 
have been inserted ; for, " when men have nothing to lose, 
they have nothing to fear." 2 But to this it was justly replied, 

1 Debates, &c, 46-62. See also 
ibid. 76-80, and comp. Letters from 
the Federal Farmer, 17, and the Fed- 
eralist, No. lii. "Foreigners have 
erroneously blended the idea of aris- 
tocracy with that division of the legis- 
lative branches of some of the Amer- 
ican democracies which is seen in the 
Senates. . . . But observe, that 
the Senate is derived mediately from 
the people. It represents the people. 
It represents no particular order of 
men or ranks. It is a weight in the 
powers of legislative deliberation and 
argument, but not of property, of 
privileges, of orders, of honors, or at 
all descriptive of that solecism which 
presupposes a division of interests in 
a state, of rights, and of honors. It 
in fine hath nothing in its original 
idea, in its relative action, or in its 
object, correspondent or analogous to 
the House of Lords in England. In 
this American Senate prevails a dem- 

ocratic simplicity. No reverence pe- 
culiar to themselves is paid them. 
The name, which is aristocratical,may, 
indeed, confound a parallel hunter; 
but the robes of Cyrus, with the ma- 
gical power by which his virtues were 
imparted to the wearer, have long 
since perished." Political Sketches, 
&c, ed. 1787, 52, 53. 

2 "The argument used in behalf 
of such practice is, that men who are 
indigent, and low in circumstances, 
are more liable to jield to tempta- 
tions and bribes, and, therefore, more 
likely to betray the public trust. But 
experience proves, that none are more 
insatiable than the rich ; perhaps the 
truth is, that those of moderate es- 
tates are least to be corrupted. But 
there are men of virtue in all stations 
of life ; and shall we, on account of 
the unequal distribution of fortune, 
exclude such from exerting them- 
selves to their own credit and the 


that the " objection was founded on anti-democratical princi- chap. 
pies," and that a good man should not be excluded from the ^J^L. 
federal government because he was not rich. Property is not 1788. 
necessarily an index of ability. "We often see men," ob- 
served Mr. King, "who, though destitute of property, are 
superior in knowledge and rectitude. The men who have 
most injured the country have most commonly been rich 
men." 1 

In the debate upon the third paragraph of the second sec- 
tion, relating to the apportionment of representatives, and in- 
cluding the " three fifths clause," the remarks of the members 
were somewhat discursive ; yet serious objections were made 
to this clause, on the grounds of its injustice to the free states, 
and its favor to the slave states. True, there were some who 
defended the clause, and with a reasoning that was plausible, if 
it was not convincing. " The members of the Southern States," 
it was said, " like ourselves, have their prejudices. It would not 
do to abolish slavery, by an act of Congress, in a moment, 
and so destroy what our southern brethren consider as prop- 
erty. But we may say, that although slavery is not smitten 
by an apoplexy, yet it has received a mortal wound, and will 
die of consumption." 2 The question of slavery, however, will 

service of others ? " Rudiments of opinions will probably be entertained. 

Law and Government, particularly It may be true that the rich have 

addressed to the people of South Car- often injured the government ; but 

olina. Charleston, 1783, 24. Comp. perhaps not oftener than the poor and 

also ibid. 25. " To annex privileges ignorant. " Faction and enthusiasm," 

and immunities to men of certain for- as "Mr. Ames has well said, " are the 

tunes, is to allow of different ranks and instruments by which popular gov- 

different interests among us; which ernments are destroyed. We need 

is the subversion of a free system, not talk of the power of an aristoc- 

. . . As there can be no inherit- racy. The people, when they lose 

ance of good deeds, there ought to their liberties, are cheated out of them, 

be none of honors. Whatever poli- They nourish factions in their bosoms, 

tics set aside the observance of this which will subsist so long as abusing 

maxim, are destructive of liberty ; their honest credulity shall be the 

because none can be made great, in means of acquiring power." 
the sense of powerful, without a pro- 2 Remarks of Mr. Dawes, in De- 

portionate debasement of the rest." bates, &c, 68. See also, the Fed- 

1 Debates, &c, 62. Upon the cor- eralist, No. liv. The symptoms of 

rectness of this assertion, different consumption are a wasting of the flesh r 


chap, be found to have been more fully discussed in the debate on 

^J^L the ninth section of the first article. 
1788. Upon the third section of the first article, relating to the 
construction of the Senate, and upon the fifth, sixth, and sev- 
enth sections, the debates were short. The principal objection 
to the third section was to the length of time for which the 
senators were chosen ; but it was replied that, as one third of 
the members were to go out every two years, the average of 
service would be but four years ; and, besides, the checks 
upon senators would be sufficient to prevent them from devi- 
ating widely from the wishes of their constituents. "The 
state legislatures," said King, "if they find their delegates 
erring, can and will instruct them. Will not this be a check ? 
When they hear the voice of the people solemnly dictating to 
them their duty, they will be bold men indeed to act contrary 
to it. There will not be instructions sent to them in a private 
letter, which can be put in their pockets ; they will be public 
instructions, which all the country can see ; and they will be 
hardy men indeed to violate them." l 

The eighth section, relating to the powers of Congress, was 
deemed of great importance, and its discussion took up more 
time than was devoted to any other section. It was objected 
to the confederation, that it was lacking in power to enforce 

a weakness of the lungs, a paleness spirited and hot-blooded, they are 
of the countenance, and an indispo- impatient of restraint; like to have 
sition to active exertion. The patient their own way ; and are reluctant to 
complains of lassitude, of weariness ; submit to outward control. It is left 
takes little interest in worldly affairs ; for the reader to decide how far this 
and is marked by timidity of temper, description is applicable to the slave 
and a shrinking from notice. The power ; and if that power is apoplec- 
slave power has never as yet exhibited tic rather than consumptive, it will 
such symptoms. Apoplectic subjects, die, when it dies, as apoplectic sub- 
on the other hand, are full fleshed, jects die, — with a preliminary warn- 
with flushed cheeks, a devouring ap- ing of its fate, to denote that its end 
petite, strong passions, and a love of is inevitably approaching, 
excitement. They are, usually, also, l Debates, &c, 75. For the dis- 
of an ambitious temper, fond of dis- cussion on the other sections, see 
tinction, and like to make a bustle ibid. 80-83. 
and a noise in the world. High- 


its demands. This objection the constitution was designed to chap. 
obviate. And, for this reason, it conferred powers not too v ^_ v ^ 
large, but only sufficient for its successful administration. 1788. 
There was certainly a necessity that such powers should be 
granted ; otherwise the new government would be no better 
than the old. 1 It would be equally lacking in energy and 
efficiency. It should possess the power of the purse and the 
sword ; for no government, without this, could long exist, or 
afford a rational security to its subjects. 2 For an efficient 
national government large powers were necessary. There 
was more danger in restricting the government than in 
strengthening its hands. 3 Since it was to act for the people, 
it must be able to protect them at home and abroad. For this 
an army and a navy must be provided. The interests of 
agriculture, of commerce, and of manufactures were also to 
be looked to ; and how could these be better secured than 
by a wise system of national laws ? 4 Without such laws, we 
should be slaves to Europe — slaves to every rival power. 
There would be no uniformity in duties, imposts, excise, or 
prohibitions. Treaties and alliances could not be made. It 
would be in the power of a single state to render the whole 
treaty of commerce a nullity, unless the general government 
was allowed to conclude such treaty — to settle its terms and 
determine its restrictions. With regard to a revenue, expe- 
rience had taught that little dependence could be placed on 

1 " The sovereignty of the nation, ton, " of investing Congress, consti- 
without coercive and efficient powers tuted as that body is, with ample 
to collect the strength of it, cannot authorities for national purposes, 
always be depended upon to answer appears to me the very climax of 
the purposes of government ; and in popular absurdity and madness." 
a congress of representatives of foreign Marshall's Washington, v. 95. 
states there must necessarily be an 4 Comp. " An Address to an As- 
unreasonable mixture of powers in the sembly of the Friends of American 
same hands." Letters from the Fed- Manufactures," by Tench Coxe, Phila- 
eral Farmer, 10. delphia, 1787, 5 ; and on the army 

2 Compare Letters from the Fed- and navy, and other powers of the 
eral Farmer, 13. government, see the Federalist, Nos. 

3 "To be fearful," says Washing- xi. xii. xxiii. xxxi. xxxiii. 
VOL. III. 19 


chap, requisitions, unless they could be enforced. And if needed 
J^^ for the benefit of the nation at large, who would say they 
1788. should not be enforced ? In a word, the laws of the United 
States, to be of real value, must comprehend and embrace 
alike all the states in the Union ; they must be binding upon 
all ; and the power to enforce them must be vested in the cen- 
tral government. In no other way could the national dignity 
be supported and preserved. It would be better to have no 
union than a feeble and effeminate one — one that would drag 
out a miserable and puny existence. 

Against the grant of powers so great, it was contended that 
it was equivalent to an entire surrender of sovereignty from 
the hands of the people to the hands of their rulers ; and that 
what was now granted from motives however well grounded 
would be exacted of posterity as a prerogative. The wisdom 
of this age would then be pleaded by those in authority ; and 
the cession thus made would be clothed with the venerable 
habit of ancestral sanction. 1 In reply to this reasoning, it 
was observed, that the checks and precautions which the con- 
stitution itself provided must, in a great measure, prevent an 
abuse of power, — at least, in all flagrant instances, — even if 
Congress should consist wholly of men who were guided by 
no other principle than their own interest. Under the influ- 
ence of such checks, this would compel them to a conduct 
which, in the general, would answer the intention of the con- 
stitution. 2 

One other point was alluded to in this discussion — that no 
religious test was provided in the constitution. Mr. Single- 
tary " hoped to see Christians " in power ; " yet, by the con- 
stitution, a papist or an infidel was as eligible as they." But 
Mr. Parsons, in reply, justly observed that "it must. remain 
with the electors to give the government this security ; an 

1 Speech of Mr. Symmes, in De- 2 For the whole discussion, see 
bates, &c, 103, and Carey's Am. Debates, &c, 83-143. 
Museum for 1788, iii. 344. 


oath will not do it. Will an unprincipled man be entangled chap. 
by an oath ? Will an atheist or a pagan dread the vengeance ,J^L 
of the Christian's God — a being, in his opinion, the creature 1788. 
of fancy and credulity ? It is a solecism in expression. The 
only evidence we can have of the sincerity and excellency of 
a man's religion is a good life ; and I trust such evidence 
will be required of every candidate by every elector. That 
man Who acts an honest part to his neighbor will most prob- 
ably conduct honorably towards the public." 1 

The ninth section of the first article called forth a spir- 
ited debate relative to the slave trade and its prohibition. 
Yet it is a noticeable circumstance, however it may be ac- 
counted for, that, though the speakers were numerous, the 
reporters have enlightened us but slightly as to their sayings. 
" Mr. Neal, from Kittery," we are told, " went over the ground 
of objection to this section, on the idea that the slave trade 
was allowed to be continued for twenty years. His profes- 
sion, he said, obliged him to bear witness against any thing 
that should favor the making merchandise of the bodies of 
men ; and, unless his objection was removed, he could not put 
his hand to the constitution. Other gentlemen said, in addi- 
tion to this idea, that there was not even a provision that the 
negroes ever shall be free ; and General Thompson exclaimed, 
1 Mr. President, shall it be said that, after we have established 
our own independence and freedom, we make slaves of others? 
Washington ! what a name has he had ! how he has immor- 
talized himself ! But he holds those in slavery who have as 
good a right to be free as he has. He is still for self ; and, 
in my opinion, his character has sunk fifty per cent.' " 

" On the other side," it is added, " gentlemen said that the 
step taken in this article towards the abolition of slavery was 
one of the beauties of the constitution. They observed that, 
in the confederation, there was no provision whatever for its 

1 Debates, &c, 72, 123, 124. See also ibid. 155-158, 190. 


chap, being abolished ; but this constitution provides that Congress 

^^^ may, after twenty years, totally annihilate the slave trade ; 

1788. and that, as all the states, except two, have passed laws to 

this effect, it might reasonably be expected that it would then 

be done. In the interim, all the states were at liberty to 

prohibit it." 

This is all that is said of the discussion on the ninth sec- 
tion, except the significant passage that, on Saturday, the 
debate " continued desultory, and consisted of similar objec- 
tions, and answers thereto, as had been before used. Both 
sides deprecated the slave trade in the most pointed terms 
On one side, it was pathetically lamented by Mr. Nason 
Major Lusk, Mr. Neal, and others, that this constitution pn> 
vided for the continuance of the slave trade for twenty years 
On the other, the Hon. Judge Dana, Mr. Adams, and others, 
rejoiced that a door was now to be opened for the annihila 
tion of this odious, abhorrent practice, in a certain time." 1 

On a subsequent page, there is a report of a speech of Gen- 
eral Heath at a later stage of the convention, in which the 
question of slavery is hinted at ; and, as every thing relating 
to this subject is of interest at the present day, his remarks 
are given, not as concurring in every particular in the views 
presented, but on the ground that every one should speak for 
himself. " The paragraph," he observed, " respecting the 
migration or importation of such persons as any of the states 
now existing shall think proper to admit, &c, is one of those 
considered during my absence, and I have heard nothing on 
the subject save what has been mentioned this morning ; but 
I think the gentlemen who have spoken have carried the mat- 
ter rather too far on both sides. I apprehend that it is not 
in our power to do any thing for or against those who are in 
slavery in the Southern States. No gentleman within these 
walls detests every idea of slavery more than I do; it is 

1 Debates, &c., 143, 144. 


generally detested by the people of this commonwealth ; and chap. 
I ardently hope that the time will come when our brethren in w ^^ w 
the Southern States will view it as we do, and put a stop to 1788. 
it ; but to this we have no right to compel them. Two ques- 
tions naturally arise, if we ratify the constitution : Shall we 
do aqy thing by our act to hold the blacks in slavery ? or 
shall we become partakers of other men's sins ? I think 
neither of them. Each state is sovereign and independent, to 
a certain degree ; and they have a right to, and will, regulate 
their own internal affairs as to themselves appears proper. 
And shall we refuse to eat, or to drink, or to be united with 
those who do not think or act just as we do ? Surely not. 
We are not in this case partakers of other men's sins ; for in 
nothing do we voluntarily encourage the slavery of our fellow- 
men. A restriction is laid on the federal government, which 
could not be avoided and a union take place. The federal 
convention went as far as they could. The migration or 
importation, &c, is confined to the states now existing only ; 
new states cannot claim it. Congress, by their ordinance for 
erecting new states, some time since, declared that the new 
states shall be republican, and that there no slavery 
in them. But whether those in slavery in the Southern States 
will be emancipated after the year 1808, I do not pretend to 
determine ; I rather doubt it." x 

The debate upon the remaining articles was much more 
summary, and occupies less space in the journal of the con- 
vention. Objections were made to the suspension of the writ 
of Habeas Corpus, on the ground that the time was not lim- 
ited, as in the constitution of Massachusetts. But to this it 
was replied, that the writ would probably never be suspended 

1 Debates, &c, 152, 153. There the argument embraced in it is not 

is one other speech on record con- eminently lucid, its insertion would 

cerning this section ; that of Rev. not particularly enlighten the reader. 

Isaac Backus, a respectable Baptist It is given in the Debates, &c., 191, 

clergyman of Middleboro' ; but as 192. 


chap, save on " the most urgent and pressing occasions ; " and, in 
^JJ^L sucn cases ? *4 was proper that Congress should determine for 
1788. how long its suspension would be necessary. 1 The " powers 
of the judiciary " were likewise discussed ; and an elaborate 
speech against the provisions of the constitution, as " inquisi- 
torial," was made by Mr. Holmes, of Rochester, and replied 
to by Mr. Gore and Mr. Dawes. 2 The fifth article, prescrib- 
ing the method in which amendments should be made, was 
generally approved ; 3 but the sixth, which provides that " no 
religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any 
office," was briefly discussed — the objections to it being that 
it was " a departure from the principles of our forefathers, 
who came here for the preservation of their religion, and that 
it would admit deists, atheists, &c, into the general govern- 
ment." But the liberality of the clause was " applauded on the 
other side," and " the impropriety, and almost impiety, of the 
requisition of a test, as practised in Great Britain and else- 
where," was " represented in striking colors." 4 

The " conversation on the constitution by paragraphs " 
was now ended ; and, as each article had been separately and 
fully considered, Mr. Parsons " moved that this convention do 
assent to and ratify " the same. 5 The whole subject, by this 
motion, was brought before the assembly ; and remarks were 
made upon the importance of the question they were called 
upon to decide — "a question as momentous as ever invited 
the attention of man." " We are soon," said General Heath, 
" to decide on a system of government, digested, not for the 
people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only, — not for 
the present people of the United States only, — but, in addi- 
tion to these, for all those states which may hereafter rise into 

1 Debates, &c, 144, 145. 4 Debates, &c, 155-157. See also 

2 Debates, &c, 146-152. Comp. ibid. 158, and comp. Carey's Am. 
Letters from the Federal Farmer, Museum for 1788, iii. 343. 

19, and the Federalist, No. xxxvii. 5 Debates, &c, 157. 
s Debates, &c, 153-155. 


existence within the jurisdiction of the United States, and for chap 
millions of people yet unborn ; a system of government, not ^J^^L 
for a nation of slaves, but for a people as free and as virtuous 1788. 
as any on earth ; not for a conquered nation, subdued to our 
will, but for a people who have fought, who have bled, and 
who have conquered — who, under the smiles of Heaven, have 
established their independence and sovereignty, and have 
taken equal rank among the nations of the earth. In short, 
sir, it is a system of government for ourselves, and for our 
children — for all that is near and dear to us in life ; and on 
the decision of the question is suspended our political prosper- 
ity or infelicity, perhaps our existence as a nation. What can 
be more solemn ? What can be more interesting ? Every - 
thing depends on our union. I know some have supposed 
that, although the union should be broken, particular states 
may retain their importance ; but this cannot be. The strong- 
est-nerved state, even the right arm, if separated from the 
body, must wither. If the great union be broken, our country 
as a nation perishes ; and if our country so perishes, it will be 
as impossible to save a particular state as to preserve one of 
the fingers of a mortified hand." l 

It was evident, from the objections which had been urged 
by many members, that the opponents of the constitution were 
nearly, if not quite, as numerous as its friends, and might 
prove more so ; 2 yet it was desirable to secure unanimity, if 

1 Debates, &c, 158, 159. The this convention have the distinguished 

remarks of Governor Bowdoin were honor of erecting one of its pillars on 

equally to the point. " If the consti- that lasting foundation." Winthrop's 

tution should be finally accepted," Addresses and Speeches, 127. 
said he, " and established, it will com- 2 Madison Papers, ii. 668, 669 ; 

plete the temple of American liberty, Letter of Knox, in Sparks's Washing- 

and, like the keystone of a grand, ton, ix. 311, note; King to Hamilton, 

magnificent arch, be the bond of union June 12, 1788, in Hamilton's Works, 

to keep all the parts firm and com- i. 456, 457 ; N. Am. Review, for Oc- 

pacted together. May this temple, tober, 1827, 273; Austin's Life of 

sacred to liberty and virtue, — sacred Gerry, ii. 69; Hildreth's U. States 

to justice, the first and greatest polit- 2d series, i. 36. Madison's Letter to 

ical virtue, — be dissoluble only by Washington, February 3, 1788, gives 

the dissolution of Nature; and may the following extract from the letter 



chap, possible, or at least a majority, in favor of the instrument ; for 
J^^_ if Massachusetts rejected it, other states would follow her ex- 
1788. ample ; and, in the end, the labors of the convention, and the 
wishes of the people, might be defeated. A government was 
desired by all ; but what it should be they could not agree. 
Entire unanimity upon any system proposed can never be ex- 
pected ; for, while the human mind is constituted as it is, a 
whole nation can no more think than see alike. Men have 
ever differed, and probably ever will. And these very differ- 
ences, so far from being an unmixed evil, are, in fact, the safe- 
guards of freedom, and the educators of society. 1 

With a view to promote unity, and to secure the vote of 
Massachusetts in favor of the constitution, a proposition was 
made by Governor Hancock, the president of the convention, 
which was instantly concurred in and approved. 2 The sub- 

of a Massachusetts correspondent : 
" Never was there an assembly in this 
state in possession of greater ability 
and information than the present con- 
vention; yet I am in doubt whether 
they will approve the constitution. 
There are, unhappily, three parties 
opposed to it : first, all men who are 
in favor of paper money and tender 
laws — these are more or less in every 
part of the state ; secondly, all the late 
insurgents and their abettors — in the 
three great western counties they are 
very numerous — we have in the con- 
vention eighteen or twenty who were 
actually in Shays's army; thirdly, a 
great majority of the members from 
the Province of Maine. . . . Add 
to these the honest, doubting people, 
and they make a powerful host. The 
leaders of the party are Mr. Widgery, 
Mr. Thomson, and Mr. Nason, from 
the Province of Maine, Dr. Taylor, 
from the county of Worcester, and 
Mr. Bishop, from the neighborhood 
of Rhode Island. To manage the 
cause against these are the present 
and late governors, three judges of the 
Supreme Court, fifteen members of 
the Senate, twenty from among the 

most respectable of the clergy, ten or 
twelve of the first characters of the 
bar, judges of probate, high sheriffs 
of counties, and many other respecta- 
ble people, merchants, &c, Generals 
Heath, Lincoln, Brooks, and others 
of the late army. With all this ability 
in ?i support of the cause, I am pretty 
well satisfied we shall lose the ques- 
tion, unless we can take off some of 
the opposition by amendments. I do 
not mean such as are to be made 
conditions of the ratification, but rec- 
ommendations only. Upon this plan, 
I flatter myself we may get a majority 
of twelve or fifteen, if not more," 

1 « The difficulty," says John Ad- 
ams to R. Price, April 19, 1790, 
in Works, ix. 564, " of bringing mil- 
lions to agree in any measures, to act 
by any rule, can never be conceived 
by him who has not tried it. It is 
incredible how small is the number, 
in any nation, of those who compre- 
hend any system of constitution or 
administration, and those few it is 
wholly impossible to unite." 

2 Governor Hancock was indis- 
posed during a large part of the time 
of the sessions of the convention, and 


stance of this proposition was, that if, in the judgment of the chap 
convention, there were defects in the constitution, and amend- ^_^^ 
ments were deemed necessary, it might be advisable to define 1788. 
these amendments, and forward them to Congress with the 
vote of ratification, as a signification of the wishes of, the state, 
and an intimation of their desire, before the subject was fully 
disposed of, that the whole instrument should be carefully 
revised. 1 Four or five of the states had assented to the con- 
stitution without amendments, though with evident reluctance. 
In six of the states, conventions had not yet been held. Hence, 
if, at this juncture, Massachusetts stepped in, and defined her 
position, as her resolutions had ever had their influence, " the 
necessary amendments would be introduced more early and 
more safely " than by any other course. 

The discussion on this proposition was continued for several 
days, the best men in the convention taking part in the de- 
bate ; a committee was likewise appointed to draw up the 

Judge "William dishing filled his his excellency, and tendered to him 
place as acting president. The charge the honor of proposing them in con- 
has been made, that unfair means vention. " The charm was irresisti- 
were, to some extent, resorted to, t<3 ble. Wrapped in his flannels, Han- 
effect the passage of a vote in favor of cock, in a day or two, took the chair 
the constitution. " The newspapers," of the convention, and a scene ensued 
it has been said, " teemed with essays more in the character of a dramatic 
in every variety of form ; and what representation, than of that serious 
argument was unable to effect, satire, and important business which was 
lampoon, and scurrility were exhausted the occasion of the assembly." Aus- 
to accomplish. Some arts were re- tin's Life of Gerry, ii. 70-78. 
sorted to, which were supposed to be x Debates, &c, 161 et seq. Comp. 
justified by the greatness of the ob- Madison Papers, ii. 643-672. " The 
ject. Personal addresses, not un- intelligence from Massachusetts be- 
mixed with threats, were made to gins to be rather ominous to the con- 
some of the members, and a marked stitution. The interest opposed to it 
distinction in private intercourse was is reenforced by all connected with 
observed towards the ' irreclaimable the late insurrection, and by the Prov- 
malignants,' and those who might be ince of Maine, which apprehends dif- 
persuaded to change their opinions." Acuities under the new system in 
The course of Governor Hancock has obtaining a separate government, 
also been the subject of severe re- greater than may be otherwise ex- 
flections ; and it has been insinuated perienced. The decision of Massa- 
that the amendments referred to in chusetts, in either way, will decide 
the text were draughted by the friends the vote of this state, [Virginia..] " 
of the constitution, who waited upon 



Feb. 6. 

chap, amendments ; and, on the sixth of February, the main ques- 
J^^ tion was taken, and decided in the affirmative by a vote of 
one hundred and eighty-seven to one hundred and sixty-eight. 
The delegates from Suffolk county, which theo embraced the 
present county of Norfolk, voted thirty-four yeas to five nays; 1 
in Essex, the vote stood thirty-eight to six ; 2 in Middlesex, 
seventeen to twenty-five ; 3 in Hampshire, thirty-three to nine- 
teen ; 4 in Plymouth, twenty-two to six ; 5 in Barnstable, seven 
to two ; 6 in Bristol, ten to twelve ; 7 in York, six to eleven ; 
in Duke's, both towns voted in the affirmative ; in Worcester, 
seven to forty-three ; 8 in Cumberland, ten to eight; in Lin- 

1 Captain Southworth, of Stough- 
ton, Mr. Comstock, of Wrentham, 
Mr. Randall, of Sharon. Mr. Richard- 
son, Jun., of Medway, and Rev. Noah 
Alden, of Bellingham, were the five 
dissentients. One each of the dele- 
gation from Stoughton and Wren- 
tham voted in the affirmative, and all 
of the delegates from Boston, Rox- 
bury, Dorchester, Milton, Weymouth, 
Hingham, Braintree, Brookline, Ded- 
ham, Needham, Medfield, Walpole, 
Franklin, Chelsea, Foxboro', and 

2 In the affirmative, Salem, New- 
bury, Newburyport, Beverly, Ipswich, 
Marblehead, Gloucester, Lynn and 
Lynnfield, Haverhill, Topsfield, Salis- 
bury, Amesbury, Bradford, Wenham, 
Manchester; in the negative, Dan- 
vers, Andover, Rowley, B oxford, and 
Methuen. One of the three delegates 
from Andover voted yea. 

3 In the affirmative, Cambridge, 
Charlestown, Concord, Newton, Fra- 
mingham, Lexington, Shelburne, Sud- 
bury, Maiden, Weston, Medford, 
Stow, Waltham, Dracut, Dunstable, 
Lincoln ; in the negative, Water- 
town, Woburn, Reading, Marlboro', 
Billerica, Chelmsford, Hopkinton, 
Westford, Groton, Shirley, Pepperell, 
Townsend, Bedford, Holliston, Acton 
and Carlisle, Wilmington, Tewksbury, 
Littleton, Ashby, Natick, Stoneham, 
and East Sudbury. 

4 In the affirmative, Springfield, 
Northampton and Easthampton, 
Southampton, Hadlev, South Hadley, 
Hatfield, Westfield, Northfield, Brim- 
field, Charlemont, Chester, Worth- 
ington, Chesterfield, Norwich, West- 
hampton, Cunningham and Plain- 
field, Buckland, and Longmeadow ; in 
the negative, West Springfield, Wil- 
braham, Amherst, Granby, Y\ r hately, 
Williamsburg, Deerfield, Greenfield, 
Shelburne, Conway, Sunderland, Mon- 
tague, S. Brimfield, Monson, Pelham 
Greenwich, Blandford, Palmer, Gran- 
ville, New Salem, Belchertown, Cole- 
rain, Ware, Warwick and Orange, 
Bernardston, Ashfield, Shutesbury, 
South wick, Ludlow, and Leverett. 

5 In the affirmative, Plymouth, 
Scituate, Marshfield, Bridgewater, 
Duxbury, Pembroke, Kingston, Han- 
over, Abington, Halifax, and Ware- 
ham ; in the negative. Rochester and 
Plympton ; divided, Middleboro'. 

6 In the affirmative, Barnstable, 
Yarmouth, Harwich, Weilfleet, and 
Falmouth ; in the negative, Sand- 

7 In the affirmative, Attleboro', 
Dighton, Freetown, New Bedford, 
Westport ; in the negative, Reho- 
both, Swanzey, Dartmouth, Norton, 
Easton, and Mansfield; divided, 

8 In the affirmative, Lancaster, 
Southboro', Bolton, Leorninster, 



coin, nine to seven ; and in Berkshire, seven to fifteen. 1 The chap. 
strongest negative vote, it will be seen, was cast in the coun- ^Ji^^L 
ties in which the disturbances had recently occurred, and in 1788. 
the District of Maine. The strongest affirmative vote was 
cast in the first settled towns and counties in the state — Bos- 
ton and Plymouth, in this respect, standing shoulder to shoul- 
der, the descendants of the Pilgrims and the descendants of 
the Puritans acting together. The larger towns, the seats of 
trade and mechanical industry, with very few exceptions voted 
in the affirmative ; the smaller towns, inhabited by a rural 
population, by a large majority voted in the negative. Thus is 
it often the case, — and experience confirms the conclusion, — 
that the rural districts are jealous of the commercial, and that 
apparent difference of interest separates men widely from each 
other in their political views. 2 

Western, Athol, and Sterling ; in the 
negative, Worcester, Mendon, Brook- 
field, Oxford, Charlton, Sutton, Leices- 
ter, Spencer, Rutland, Paxton, Oak- 
ham, Barre, Hubbardston, New Brain- 
tree, Westboro', Northboro', Shrews- 
bury, Lunenburg, Fitchburg, Ux- 
bridge, Harvard, Dudley, Upton, 
Sturbridge, Hardwick, Holden, Doug- 
las, Grafton, Petersham, Royals- 
ton, Westminster, Templeton, Ash- 
burnham, Winchendon, Northbridge, 
Ward, Milford, and Boylston. 

1 In the affirmative, Sheffield and 
Mt. Washington, Great Barrington, 
Stockbridge, Williamstown, Becket, 
and New Marlboro' ; in the negative, 
Pittsfield, Richmond, Lenox, Lanes- 
boro', Adams, Egremont, W. Stock- 
bridge, Alford, Tyringham, Loudon, 
Windsor, Partridgefield, Hancock, 
Lee, Washington, Sandisfield. 

2 Comp. Sparks's Washington, ix. 
310, 311, note, 333, note; Carey's 
Am. Museum for 1788, iii. 347-358. 
In nearly all the great commercial 
cities, as Boston, New York, Phila- 
delphia, Baltimore, and Charleston, 
the acceptance of the new system was 
celebrated with no little pomp j and 

in Philadelphia, in particular, the pro- 
ceedings were on a scale of unusual 
magnificence. In Providence, how- 
ever, an attempt to add to the cere- 
monies of the fourth of July rejoicings 
that the constitution was to go into 
effect, was defeated by a mob of a 
thousand men from the neighboring 
country towns, some of them armed, 
and headed by a judge of the Supreme 
Court, who compelled the citizens to 
strike out from then programme all 
reference to the constitution. The 
proceedings in New York were like- 
wise sneered at in Greenleaf s Political 
Register, and a disparaging account 
of the procession was given ; and in 
Albany a violent collision took place, 
in which clubs and stones, and even 
swords and bayonets, were freely used. 
Comp. Carey's Am. Museum for 1788, 
iii. 163-165, ii. 57-78; Hildreth's U. 
S., 2d series, i. 25-30. " The triumph 
of the constitution party in Massa- 
chusetts," says Austin, Life of Gerry, 
ii. 79, "was celebrated with all the 
pageantry of conquest. No victory 
of the revolution was announced with 
greater enthusiasm, and on no occa- 
sion was the exultation of success 



The amendments to the constitution were embodied in nine 
articles, the substance of which was, that all powers not ex- 
1788. pressly delegated to Congress should be reserved to the states ; 
that there should be one representative to every thirty thou- 
sand inhabitants until the number reached two hundred ; that 
the powers of the fourth section of the first article should be 
exercised only in case of the neglect or refusal of any state to 
make the regulations mentioned in it ; that direct taxes should 
be laid only as a last resort, in the failure of other sources of 
revenue ; that no commercial monopolies should be created ; 
that trials for capital offences should be preceded by an indict- 
ment by a grand jury, except in a few specified cases ; that 
the Supreme Judicial Court should have no jurisdiction of 
causes between citizens of different states, unless the matter in 
dispute was of the value, at the least, of three thousand dol- 
lars ; that civil actions between such citizens should be tried 
by a jury, if the parties requested ; and that Congress should 
at no time consent that any person holding an office of trust 
or profit under the United States should accept a title of 
nobility, or any other title or office, from any king, prince, or 
foreign state. 1 

more offensively displayed. The van- 
quished in battle had been treated 
with greater kindness than those in 
debate. Instead of the courteous de- 
meanor which the gallant conqueror 
of a foreign foe deems it honorable to 
assume, there was a display of that 
supercilious superiority which marks 
the triumphs of a servile war. The 
state of parties, neither in the con- 
vention nor among the people, could 
have justified this most extravagant 
rejoicing, had it not been considered 
the most effective measure to swell 
the actual strength of the majority, 
and to extend the influence of Massa- 
chusetts into states where conventions 
were yet to assemble. Doubtful of the 
real state of public opinion, the con- 
stitution party determined to assume 

its control, and to secure by apparent 
acclamation what had been carried 
with exceeding difficulty through the 
forms of debate." 

1 Debates, &c, 223, 224 ; Elliot's 
Debates; Carey's Am. Museum for 
1788, iii. 161, 1*62, iv. 146-158. For 
the amendments proposed by the 
other states, see Hist. Cong., 146 et 
seq. ; Elliot's Debates ; Hildreth's U. 
S., 2d series, i. 112-118; Pitkin's 
U. S., ii. 331-335. Pennsylvania pro- 
posed fourteen; Maryland, twenty- 
eight ; South Carolina, four ; New 
Hampshire, twelve ; Virginia, twenty ; 
New York, thirty-two; North Caro- 
lina, twenty-six ; and Rhode Island 
twenty-one ; — but in many cases the 
suggestions were identical or very 
similar. None of them seriously af- 



The assent and ratification of the state, with the recommen- chap. 
dation and injunction attached, was ordered to be engrossed ^^^ 
on parchment, signed by the president and vice president of 1788. 
the convention, countersigned by the secretary, and transmit- 
ted " to the United States in Congress assembled ; " and, after 
several gentlemen, who had formerly opposed the constitution, 
had expressed their intention to concur in the action of the 
state, and to endeavor to promote unity, the pay roll was 
passed, and a vote of thanks to the president, the vice presi- 
dent, and the reverend clergy who had officiated as chaplains ; 
and it was " voted, that, when the business of the convention 
shall be completed, the members will proceed to the State 
House to take an affectionate leave of each other." ] 

Thus closed the Massachusetts convention for the ratifica- 
tion of the constitution. The small majority in favor of that 
ratification is proof that the constitution did not meet the 
approval of all ; and the fact that, in every state, many oppo- 
nents were found, 2 shows how difficult — nay, impossible — it 
is, even under the most favorable circumstances, for the wisest 
and best to frame an unexceptionable system of government. 
It will be conceded, however, by those who look at the sub- 
ject in its broadest relations, that perhaps, upon the whole, it 
was better for the interests of the country, and more conducive 

fected the practical operation of the merits of the instrument would not 

new government, or interfered with have secured its adoption. Indeed, 

the great compromises on which the it is scarcely to be doubted that, in 

whole system was based. some of the adopting states, a ma- 

1 Debates, &c, 224, 231. jority of the people were in the oppo- 

2 Marshall's Washington, v. 132. sition. In all of them, the numerous 
" So balanced were parties in some of amendments which were proposed, 
them," says the latter, "that even demonstrate the reluctance with which 
after the subject had been discussed the new government was accepted ; 
for a considerable time, the fate of the and that a dread of dismemberment, 
constitution could hardly be conjee- not an approbation of the particular 
tured ; and so small, in many in- system under consideration, had in- 
stances, was the majority in its favor, duced an acquiescence in it." See 
as to afford strong ground for the also Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, L 
opinion that, had the influence of 29, 35. 

character been removed, the intrinsic 


chap, to a spirit of submission, that there should have been doubts 
JJ3^_ °f the success of the scheme, rather than an overweening con- 
1788. fidence in its triumph. This, of itself, was a check against 
innovations and all rash attempts to subvert the government. 
It strengthened that conservative element, without which soci- 
ety rapidly degenerates. It fostered a jealousy of both measures 
and men. The bounds of authority were watched with vigi- 
lance. Encroachments and usurpations were speedily checked. 
And the people, to this day, cherish a reverential regard for 
that union, effected at the cost of so much treasure and blood, 
and around which the hopes of the nation are clustered. 1 
" Our constitution," wrote John Adams, " was made only for 
a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the 
government of any other." 2 Such has ever been, and such, it 
is to be hoped, will continue to be, the general character of 
the people of this country. 

The ratification of the constitution having been made by 
the vote of the requisite number of states, 3 the General Con- 
Sep. 13. gress passed a resolve " that the first Wednesday in January 
next be the day for appointing electors in the several states 
which before the said day shall have ratified the said constitu- 
tion ; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for 
the electors to assemble in their respective states, and vote 
for a president ; and that the first Wednesday in March next 
be the time, and the present seat of Congress [New York] 

1 Comp. N. Am. Rev. for July, Massachusetts, February 6, 1788. 
1841, 53. Maryland, April 28, 1788. 

2 Letter of Oct. 11, 1798, to the South Carolina, May 23, 1788. 
Officers of the First Brigade of the New Hampshire, June 21, 1788. 
Third Division of the Militia of Mass., Virginia, June 26, 1 788. 

in Works, ix. 229. New York, July 26, 1788. 

3 The ratification by the different N. Carolina, November 21, 1789. 
states took place as follows : — Rhode Island, May 29, 1790. 

Delaware, December 7, 1787. The dates vary in different tables, 

Pennsylvania, December 12, 1787. as Delaware, December 3 ; Pennsyl- 

New Jersey, December 18, 1787. vania, December 13 ; New Jersey, 

Georgia, January 2, 1788. December 19; Virginia, June 25 

Connecticut, January 9, 1788. North Carolina, December 21. 



the place, for commencing proceedings under said constitu- chap. 
tion.»i J^ 

All eyes, from the beginning, were turned to General Wash- 1788. 
ington as the one who, above all others, was preeminently 
qualified to fill so important a station as that of first president 
of the United States. It was believed, by those who knew 
him best, that he might be placed at the head of the nation 
without exciting the spirit of envy ; that he alone possessed, 
in an unlimited degree, the confidence of the people ; and that, 
under his auspices, the friends of the new government might 
reasonably hope to see it introduced with a firmness, and con- 
ducted with an ability, a prudence, and a forecast, which would 
enable it to resist the assaults of its foes and the plots of its 
adversaries. But Washington was inclined to domestic retire- 
ment, and earnestly desired to spend the evening of his life in 
the bosom of his family, aloof from the scene of political con- 
tention. Could any inducements prevail with him to relin- 
quish these views, and to gratify the wishes of his friends and 
the public? "We cannot do without you." " You must be 
the president. No other man can draw forth the abilities of 

1 Statesman's Manual, ii. 1507. 
The building in which Congress was 
to meet, and which the Continental 
Congress had previously occupied, was 
the old City Hall, of New York, situ- 
ated on Wall Street, opposite Broad 
Street — the site of the present 
United States Custom House; but, 
as this structure had fallen into de- 
cay, repairs were necessary ; the funds 
for the same, hi the exhausted state 
of the treasury, were advanced by 
several wealthy citizens : and the reno- 
vated edifice, called " Federal Hall," 
was placed by the city at the dis- 
posal of the government. Hildreth's 
U. S., 2d series, i. 46. By the terms 
of the new constitution, Massachu- 
setts was entitled to eight representa- 
tives in the General Congress : and the 
first election, which was warmly con- 
tested, took place in 1789. At the first 

trial, but four were chosen — Fish- 
er Ames, George Partridge, George 
Leonard, and George Thatcher. The 
vacancies were subsequently filled by 
the choice of Elbridge Gerry, Benja- 
min Goodhue, Jonathan Grout, and 
Theodore Sedgwick. Bradford, ii. 
335 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. chap, 
hi. ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 42, 
43. Samuel Adams was the com- 
petitor of Fisher Ames ; Grout, from 
the Worcester district, was an anti- 
federalist, and a partisan of Shays; 
Theodore Sedgwick was a federalist ; 
the opponent of Gerry, in the Middle- 
sex district, was Nathaniel Gorham ; 
and Benjamin Goodhue was from the 
Essex district. Partridge was chosen 
from the Plymouth district, and Leon- 
ard and Thatcher from the others. 
The senators chosen were Tristram 
Dalton and Caleb Strong. 



;hap. our country into the various departments of civil life." " "With- 
JlJ^ out you, the government can have but little chance of success, 
1788. and the people of that happiness which its prosperity must 
yield." Such was the burden of the letters he received from 
his companions in arms, and from distinguished civilians. 1 
Nor were these persuasions without their effect. At first, his 
scruples seemed to be insurmountable. Distrust of his own 
abilities, and the modesty which had always distinguished his 
character, led him to fear that, amidst so many obstacles as 
must necessarily arise, and the conflict of opinion which had 
not yet subsided, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for 
the best intentioned to manage so prudently as to escape all 
censure ; and though he was ready to sacrifice, at the call of 
his country, personal ease and domestic tranquillity, he could 
not conceal from himself the fact, that, to extricate the coun- 
try from its financial embarrassments, and to establish a gen- 
eral system of policy which, if pursued, would insure permanent 
felicity to the nation, required a more than ordinary degree 
of patriotism, and an abnegation of self and of the motives 
which are often most powerful with the aspiring, to discharge 
successfully the arduous duties which his station would im- 
pose. 2 

1 Sparks's Washington, ix. 371 et 
seq. ; Marshall's Washington, v. 133 
-150 ; Hamilton's Works, i. 474. 

2 See his letters to different friends, 
in Sparks's Washington, x. "Al- 
though," he wrote to Catharine Ma- 
caulay Graham, January 9, 1790, 
" neither the present age nor posterity 
may possibly give me full credit for 
the feelings which I have experienced 
on this subject, yet I have a conscious- 
ness, that nothing short of an absolute 
conviction of duty could ever have 
brought me upon the scenes of public 
life again. The establishment of our 
new government seemed to me to be 
the last great experiment for pro- 
moting human happiness by a rea- 

sonable compact in civil society. It 
was to be, in the first instance, in a 
considerable degree, a government of 
accommodation, as well as a govern- 
ment of laws. Much was to be done 
by prudence, much by conciliation, 
much by firmness. Few, who are not 
philosophical speculators, can realize 
the difficult and delicate part which a 
man in my situation had to act. All 
see, and most admire, the glare which 
hovers round the external happiness 
of elevated office. To me, there is 
nothing in it beyond the lustre which 
may be reflected from its connection 
with a power of promoting human 


Happily for the country, he did not long remain in suspense, chaf. 
Convinced as he was that " nothing but harmony, honesty, J^^ 
industry, and frugality " were " necessary to make us a great 1789. 
and happy people," he was at the same time ready to acknowl- 
edge that " the present posture of affairs, and the prevailing 
disposition of his countrymen, promised to cooperate in estab- 
lishing these four great and essential pillars of public felici- 
ty ; " l and when he was informed by Charles Thompson, the Apr. 14. 
secretary of the old Congress, that, by the unanimous and 
uninfluenced vote of an immense continent, 2 he was called to 
the chief magistracy, he left his home, where his hopes had Apr. 16. 
been garnered, to " embark again on the tempestuous ocean of 
public life." 3 John Adams, of Massachusetts, who had re- 
ceived the next highest vote, was to be associated with him 
in the office of vice president ; and, two days before the 
arrival of Washington at New York, — whither he was 
attended by the prayers of the people, and by warm demon- 
strations of unbounded respect, — Mr. Adams took his seat in 
the Senate, and addressed that body in a dignified speech, con- Apr.2L 
gratulating them upon " the formation of a national constitu- 
tion, and the fair prospect of a consistent administration of a 
government of laws." 4 

1 Marshall's Washington, v. 150. Jun., and Moses Gill. Bradford, ii. 

2 The electors met in the different 335. 

states in February, 1789, to cast their 3 Washington to Edward Rutledge, 
votes for president, &c. ; and the May 5, 1789, in Sparks's Washing- 
elections of senators and representa- ton, x. 1. 

tives to Congress took place about 4 Jour. Sen., 14, 15 ; J. Adams's 

the same time. Washington received Works, ix. ; Hist. Cong., 25-27 ; 

sixty-nine votes — the whole number Marshall's Washington, v. 161,162; 

cast; and John Adams thirty-four, Sparks's Washington, x. App. 1; 

thus lacking one of a majority, but Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 53-58. 

sufficient, as the constitution stood, to It should be observed that, on the day 

make him vice president. Hildreth's appointed for the assembling of Con- 

U. S., 2d series, i. 40, 48, 49. The gress, — March 4, 1789, — only eight 

electors from Massachusetts were Wil- senators and thirteen representatives 

Ham Cushing, William Shepard, Wil- appeared, — not a quorum of either 

liam Sever, Walter Spooner, David body; nor was it until the first of 

Sewall, Caleb Davis, Francis Dana, April that a quorum of the House 

Samuel Henshaw, Samuel Phillips, was present, and it was the sixth be- 
VOL. III. 20 


The ceremonies of inauguration were adjusted by Congress ; 
and, on the day assigned, the illustrious Washington appeared 
1789. in the senate chamber, to take, in the presence of both Houses 
' of Congress, the solemn oath prescribed by the constitution. 
Great preparations had been made for this event. Public 
curiosity was fully aroused ; and, to gratify the wishes of the 
multitudes who had thronged thither to witness the imposing 
scene, an open gallery, adjoining the senate chamber, was 
selected as the place in which the oath should be administered. 
The oath was taken ; the chancellor exclaimed, " Long live 
George Washington ! " the first message was delivered, and 
listened to attentively ; the replies of the Senate and the 
M ^y | House were returned ; and, amidst the hearty congratulations 
of its friends, the government of the United States was peace- 
ably established. 1 

It is impossible to reflect upon the incidents described in 
this chapter without being impressed with a sense of devout 
gratitude, that the crisis, which threatened for a time to be 
attended with disastrous results, should have been passed 
through so safely, and that the issue should have been the 
revival of confidence and of public security. The agitation, 
indeed, had been too great to be instantly calmed ; and that 
the active opponents of the new system should immediately 
become its friends, or relinquish the fears of its stability they 
had so often expressed, would have been a victory of reason 

fore a quorum of the Senate appeared, ident, and members of Congress pro- 
Jour. Sen. and House ; Hist. Cong. ; ceeded to St. Paul's Chapel, to hear 
Statesman's Manual ; Hildreth. &c. divine service, performed by the Right 
1 Jour. Senate, 10-20, 22, 23, 26, Rev. Samuel Provost, chaplain of 
27; Jour. H. of R., 11, 12, 15, 19, Congress, lately ordained bishop of 
20, 24, 27, 28 ; Sparks's Washing- New York. In the evening there was 
ton, x., App. i., and Life of Wash- a display of fireworks at the Battery, 
ington ; Marshall's Washington, v. and the houses of the French and 
167-175 ; Hist of Congress, 28-37 ; Spanish ministers were illuminated. 
Pitkin's Hist. U. S., ii. 318-325 ; Hil- The legislature of Massachusetts for- 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 56-58. At warded an address to Washington 
the conclusion of the ceremonies of soon after his inauguration, which is 
inauguration, the president, vice pres- given in Bradford, ii. 336, 337. 


over passion, or a surrender of individual judgment to the chap. 
decision of a majority, examples of which are rarely given in ^^^ 
the conduct of human affairs. 1 Yet, whatever misgivings were 1789. 
cherished in secret, and whatever murmurs were openly ut- 
tered, there was a general acquiescence in the will of the peo- 
ple, and a general readiness to cooperate in sustaining the 
government, that the experiment of its utility might be fairly 
tried, and that its failure, if it did fail, might result from its 
inherent defects rather than from external opposition. That 
it has not yet failed, is proof, not only of the wisdom of its 
framers, but of the virtue of the people. Had the people 
been fickle, the government could never have subsisted to 
this time. 

There are grave questions connected with our great national 
compact which have long excited the attention of the thought- 
ful. Whether the system, in all its parts, is adjusted in the 
best manner ; whether there are defects which it is possible 
to remedy ; whether innovations have not crept in, which have 
tended to divert it from its original intention ; and whether 
the evils it was designed to obviate have not, to some extent, 
appeared in a new form, and with a promise of increasing and 
dangerous growth, are points upon which the wisest have 
differed in opinion. It should be borne in mind that, if no 
human system of government is, or can be, absolutely perfect, 
checks and balances, however useful, are like two-edged swords, 
capable of doing great mischief ; and that the passions of men 
are often their executioners, and always to be dreaded when 
heated and inflamed. Yet confidence is necessary in the suc- 
cess of our " experiment " — a confidence based upon the 
arrangements of Providence. If we are true to ourselves, true 
to our country, and true to our God, we have nothing to fear. 
Recreancy to such principles, a selfish imprudence, and con- 

1 Marshall's Washington, v. 176, 177. 



chap, tempt of an authority superior to all human enactments, and 
S J!3-L binding upon all nations, will assuredly result in our signal 
1789. defeat. 1 

1 "If," says the author of Political 
Sketches, 12, " a theatre for the dis- 
play of the great drama of the human 
character was ever fondly formed in 
the brain of a Locke, or a Sidney, the 
United States, at this moment, and 
in that indeed preceding then* rev- 
olution, realized the philosophical 
expectation. So nearly have they 
approached perfection, that the great 
and unexceptionable correctness and 
purity of their democracies are the 
only objections raised against their 
practicability and duration. But in 
this objection a number of false prem- 
ises are assumed ; premises which the 
history of mankind will by no means 
warrant : which the indolence of some, 

and the depravity of others, have ad- 
mitted for purposes of speculative ar- 
gument," For excellent remarks on 
the constitution and its value, see Story 
on the Const. ; the Writings of Wash- 
ington, and John Adams ; Webster's 
Works, passim ; Curtis's Hist, of the 
Const. ; Austin's Life of Gerry , vol. ii. 
chap, ii., &c. In 1791, James Sullivan, 
Esq., afterwards Governor Sullivan, 
published, at Boston, a series of " Ob- 
servations upon the Government of 
the U. S. of America," in a pamphlet 
of fifty-six pages, to which a reply was 
published at Charleston, S. Carolina, 
in 1792, by a citizen of that state, in 
a pamphlet of fifty pages. 



By the adoption of the state constitution, in 1780, Massa- chap. 
chusetts, as an independent commonwealth, secured for her J^L 
citizens an admirable system of internal government, eminently 1789. 
adapted to promote their prosperity ; and, by the adoption of 
the federal constitution in 1788, her relative position in the 
Union was established, Her history, therefore, from this time 
forth, is of a twofold character — internal and external. It 
is impossible to do justice to the conduct of her statesmen, 
or to sketch in full the part she has taken in developing the 
greatness of the country, without speaking as well of her 
actions abroad as of her measures at home — of the strength 
she has lent to the national councils, and of the steps by which 
her own progress has been essentially promoted. In both 
these respects she has ever maintained a commanding posi- 
tion ; her views and her principles have been of vital impor- 
tance ; the weight of her influence has been every where felt ; 
and no state in the Union stands higher, this day, in the esti- 
mation of intelligent foreigners and intelligent Americans, 
than Old Massachusetts. 

Soon after his inauguration as president of the United 
States, General Washington, desirous to revisit the spot where 
he had first served as commander-in-chief of the army of the 
revolution, and anxious to observe personally the condition of 
the country, and the disposition of the people towards the 
government and its measures, as well as to recruit his health, 
which was feeble, availed himself of the opportunity which the 


310 Washington's visit to boston. 

chap, recess of Congress afforded for a respite from official cares to 

J^^ make the tour of the Eastern States. The resolution once 
1789. taken, it was carried into effect. He commenced his journey 
' in company with Major Jackson and Mr. Lear, gentlemen of 
his family ; and, after passing through Connecticut and Mas- 
sachusetts, and as far to the north as Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, he returned by a different route to New York, where he 

Nov. 13. arrived in the following month. The incidents of this jour- 
ney are detailed in the papers with considerable fulness ; and 
the reception of his excellency by the citizens of Boston, the 
executive of the commonwealth, and the inhabitants of the 
towns which he visited in his progress, was such as had never 
before been given to any individual. 1 

Oct. 24. The procession in Boston was of unusual length, and all 
classes were represented in it — the highest officers in the 
state, as well as those in the humbler walks of life, uniting in 
expressions of respect to their visitor. The people, indeed, 
were " universally animated with the liveliest sentiments of 
gratitude and veneration," and manifested their feelings " by 
various demonstrations of joy and exultation." 2 " We meet 

1 Marshall's Washington, v. 224, in the Massachusetts Magazine for 
225; Bradford, ii. 342 et seq. The January, 1790. This arch, which was 
State of Rhode Island had not, at considered as a model of elegance and 
this time, ratified the federal consti- beauty, was designed by Mr. C. C. 
tution ; and it was, probably, for this Bulfinch, and the colonnade by Mr. 
reason, that Washington did not visit Dawes. The former was eighteen 
it during his tour. Comp. Sparks's feet high, and was composed of a 
Washington, x. 39, 41, 46, note, 76. central arch, fourteen feet wide, and a 
The enthusiasm of the people is smaller arch on each side, seven feet 
graphically portrayed in a letter of wide, " with an Ionic pillar and proper 
Trumbull to Wolcott, of Connecticut, imposts between them." The frieze 
"We have gone through," says he, exhibited thirteen stars, on a blue 
" all the popish grades of worship, ground, and a handsome white cor- 
and the president returns all fragrant nice was carried to the height of the 
with the odor of incense." Hildreth's platform. Above was a painted bal- 
U. S., 2d series, i. 150. ustrade, of interlaced work, in the 

2 For an account of the proceed- centre of which was an oval tablet, 
ings in Boston, see Mass. Mag. for inscribed on one side, " To the man 
1789, and the Boston newspapers, who unites all hearts," and on the 
A " description of the triumphal arch other, " To Columbia's favorite son." 
and colonnade erected in honor of the At the end adjoining the State House 
president of the U. States," appeared was a panel, decorated with a trophy, 


you, sir, at this time," was the language of the address of the chap. 
Governor and Council, " with our hearts replete with the ^^ 
warmest affection and esteem, to express the high satisfaction 1789. 
we feel in your visit to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 
"We can never forget the time when, in the earliest stage of 
the war, and the day of our greatest calamity, we saw you at 
the head of the army of the United States, commanding troops 
determined, though then undisciplined, by your wisdom and 
valor, to prevent a sanguine and well-appointed army of our 
enemies from spreading devastation through our country, and, 
sooner than we had reason to expect, obliging them to aban- 
don the capital. We have since seen you in your high com- 
mand, superior to the greatest fatigues and hardships, success- 
fully conducting our armies through a long war, until our 
enemies were compelled to submit to terms of peace, and 
acknowledge that independence which the United States, in 
Congress assembled, had before asserted and proclaimed. We 
now have the pleasure of seeing you in a still more exalted 
station, to which you have been elected by the unanimous 
suffrages of a free, virtuous, and grateful country. From that 
attachment which you manifestly discovered while in your 

composed of the arms of the United of the State House was the door 
States, of the Commonwealth of Mas- through which the president passed 
sachusetts, and of France, crowned to the balustrade, descending from a 
with a 'laurel wreath, over which was platform, by four easy steps, to the 
the inscription, " Boston, relieved floor of the gallery, which was fur- 
March 17, 1776." Over the central nished with armed chairs, and spread 
arch a rich canopy, twenty feet high, with rich carpets. On this platform 
was erected, with the American eagle was a pedestal, covered with green, 
perched above. The colonnade was supporting the figure of Plenty, with 
erected at the west end of the State her cornucopiae and other emblems. 
House, adjacent to the arch. It was As soon as the president entered this 
composed of six large columns, fifteen colonnade, he was saluted by three 
feet high, and a balustrade hung in huzzas from the citizens, and an ode, 
front, with Persian carpets, on which written for the occasion, was sung by 
were wrought thirteen roses. The a select choir of singers, seated under 
circle of this colonnade measured the canopy erected over the arch, 
forty-four feet, and projected boldly "The whole," it is said, "formed an 
into the main street, so as to exhibit agreeable spectacle, and heightened 
in a strong light, " The man of the the pleasure of the day." 
people." The central west window 


chap, military command to the civil liberties of your country, we 
J^J^ do assure ourselves that you will ever retain this great object 
1789. in your view, and that your administration will be happy and 

" It is our earnest prayer that the divine benediction may 
attend you here and hereafter ; and we do sincerely wish that 
you may, through this life, continue to enjoy that greatest of 
earthly blessings, to be ' accepted by the multitude of your 
brethren.'" 1 

The reply of Washington was in a similar strain ; and he 
congratulated the citizens upon the prosperity of their com- 
monwealth, and the evidences of plenty which were every 
where visible. 2 The proceedings in the other towns were 
equally patriotic ; and each seemed to vie with the other in 
expressions of unbounded respect and good will. 3 

By the adoption of the constitution of the United States, 
the citizens of Massachusetts, as well as of the rest of the 
Union, were divided into two parties, which, with various for- 
tunes and under different names, have continued to our own 
day, and which were known at that time as federalists and 
anti-federalists. The former of these titles was assumed by 
the friends of the new constitution, and the latter was em- 
ployed to designate its opponents. Those opponents, however, 

1 Bradford, ii. 343, 344. On the 227 ; and for the reply of Washing- 
reception of Washington by Govern- ton, ibid. 228. 

or Hancock, and the embarrassment 3 For the proceedings at Newbury- 

which the conduct of the latter occa- port, see Cushing's Newburyport ; 

sioned, see Sparks's Washington, x. and Coffin's Newbury, 262-264. 

47, 48, and App. No. vii. The address there delivered was 

2 Marshall's Washington, v. 226. written by John Quincy Adams, after- 
" Your love of liberty," said he, " your wards president of the United States, 
respect for the laws, your habits of who was a student at law in the 
industry, and your practice of the office of Theophilus Parsons, Esq., 
moral and religious obligations, are and who had been appointed to pre- 
the strongest claims to national and pare it by a vote of the town. For 
individual happiness. And they will, the proceedings in other towns, see 
I trust, be firmly and lastingly estab- Felt's Salem, ii. 66, 67, and Ipswich, 
lished." For the Address of the 206; Lewis's Lynn, 224; Brooks's 
Cincinnati of Mass., see Marshall, v. Medford. 69. 


insisted that these appellations were not rightly used, and chap. 
that the names, if interchanged, would have been much more J^^ 
appropriately applied. So far from being inimical to the Union, 1789. 
or unfriendly to its interests, they declared themselves as 
ready as others to support and defend it ; and they repudiated 
the charge of disloyalty to the government, or of wishing to 
prevent its peaceful administration. 1 Yet the friends of the 
new constitution, flushed with success, in the hour of their tri- 
umph may possibly have forgotten, in some cases, to wear their 
honors with becoming meekness ; and, according to their 
opponents, " past political services, and the character of those 
revolutionary patriots, which should have been considered the 
property of the nation, were of no avail in the all-absorbing 
interest of the present divisions." 2 " The vigilant enemies 
of free government," wrote Elbridge Gerry to one of his 17881 
friends, " have been long in the execution of their plan to 
hunt down all who remain attached to revolution principles. 
They have attacked us in detail, and have deprived you, Mr. 
S. Adams, and myself, in a great measure, of that public con- 
fidence to which a faithful attachment to the public interest 
entitles us ; and they are now aiming to throw Mr. Hancock 
out of the saddle, who, with all his foibles, is yet attached to 
the whig cause. There seems to be a disposition in the dom- 

1 N.Am. Rev., for July, 1840, 82; have lived long enough to see our 

Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 90 ; Brad- miserable infatuation, and to depre- 

ford, iii. 57, 58, and Hist. Fed. Gov't, cate and deplore its consequences." 

50 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 2 Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 83. It 

31. " We were called anti-feder- should be observed, that this state- 

alists," says Matthew Carey, Olive ment comes from one whose sympa- 

Branch, 26, ed. 1817, "because we thies were with the republican party, 

were eager to have the federal con- and it must be taken accordingly, as 

stitution amended previous to its an expression of his opinion rather 

ratification — doubting the practica- than as proof positive of the truth of 

bility of amendments afterwards. We the charge. It is but fair, however, 

were wild and extravagant enough to that each party should be allowed to 

see despotism in many of its features ; state its own views in its own way; 

and were so fatuitous and blind as and it must be left to the reader to 

not to have the slightest idea of dan- decide upon their correctness, 
ger from the state governments. We 


chap, inant party to establish a nobility of opinion, under whose 
J^J^ control, in a short time, will be placed the government of the 
1788. Union and of the states, and whose insufferable arrogance 
marks out for degradation all who will not submit to their 
authority. It is beginning to be fashionable to consider the 
opponents of the constitution as embodying themselves with 
the lower class of the people, and that one forfeits all title to 
the respect of a gentleman unless he is of the privileged order. 
Is this, my friend, to be the operation of a free government, 
which all our labors in the revolution have tended to pro- 
duce? 7 ' 1 

It should be observed, however, with reference to this sub- 
ject, that parties were by no means new in America, and that 
the rancor of political resentment, even among otherwise amia- 
ble characters, had often prompted to a misrepresentation of the 
views and opinions of those who were its subjects. 2 When 
will it be conceded that men may differ from each other in 
opinion in politics without impeaching their integrity or intel- 
ligence ? Under proper restrictions, parties are necessary in 
a free commonwealth. They are the positive and negative 
poles of government, equalizing the temper of the people, pre- 
venting the encroachments of usurped authority, and provok- 
ing discussion, which elicits truth. 3 So far, therefore, from 

1 Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 85, 86. Thomas M'Kean, September 20, 

2 " You say," wrote John Adams to 1779, " is highly useful and necessary, 
William Keteltas, November 25, 1812, to balance individuals, and bodies, and 
Corresp. in Works, x. 23, " our di- interests, one against another, and 
visions began with federalism and anti- bring the truth to light, and justice 
federalism. Alas ! they began with to prevail." Washington also wrote 
human nature. They have existed in to Hamilton, August 26, 1792, in 
America from its first plantation. In Sparks's Washington, x. 283, " Dif- 
every colony divisions always pre- ferences in political opinions are as 
vailed." Jefferson also wrote to John unavoidable as, to a certain point, 
Adams, " The same political parties they may, perhaps, be necessary. But 
which now agitate the United States it is exceedingly to be regretted, that 
have existed through all time." Ad- subjects cannot be discussed with 
ams's Works, &c, 50. temper, on the one hand, or decisions 

3 " An opposition in Parliament, in submitted to without having the mo- 
a House of Assembly, in a Council, tives which led to them improperly 
in Congress," wrote John Adams to implicated, on the other. And this 



condemning indiscriminately either federalists or anti-federal- chap. 
ists, let it rather be conceded that both were honest, and acted J^ 1 ^ 
conscientiously in the advocacy of their measures. It is only 1789. 
when parties degenerate into factions, 1 ripe for rapine and 
eager for spoils, that their influence is dangerous and positively 
to be dreaded. In a healthy state, and in the exercise of their 
normal and legitimate functions, they are no more to be dep- 
recated than the differences of opinion which are elsewhere to 
be found — the parties in philosophy and in morals which have 
sprung up. Yet how often have the most reputable characters fi 
had reason to exclaim, — 

" The little dogs, and all, — 
Tray, Blanche, and Sweetheart, — see, they bark at me!" 8 

11 Every difference of opinion/' said Jefferson, in his inaugural 
address, " is not a difference of principle. "We have called by 
different names brethren of the same principles. We are all 
republicans ; we are all federalists." 3 And the remark, how- 

regret borders on chagrin when we 
find that men of abilities, zealous pa- 
triots, having the same general object 
in view, and the same upright inten- 
tions, will not exercise more charity 
in deciding on the opinions and actions 
of one another. When matters go to 
such lengths, the natural inference is, 
that both sides have strained the cords 
beyond then- bearing, and that a mid- 
dle course would be found the best, 
until experience shall have decided 
on the right way, or (which is not to 
be expected, because it is denied to 
mortals) there shall be some infallible 
rule by which we can forejudge events." 
1 Parties degenerate into factions 
when their aim is solely to secure 
then own triumph ; and, in this sense, 
federalists and anti-federalists, fed- 
eralists and republicans, whigs and 
democrats, have all, at times, been 
factious. " The real terrors of both 
parties," says John Adams, Corresp. 
in Works, x. 48, " have always been, 

and now are, the fear that they shall 
lose the elections, and, consequently, 
the loaves and fishes, and that their 
antagonists will get them. Both par- 
ties have excited artificial terrorism j 
and, if I were summoned as a witness 
to say, upon oath, which party had 
excited the most terror, and which 
had really felt the most, I could not 
give a more sincere answer than in 
the vulgar style, ' Put them in a bag 
and shake them, and then see which 
will come out first.' " 

2 King Lear, Act iii. Sc. 6. 

3 Message, in Works ; Statesman's 
Manual, i. 150 ; comp. also N. Am. 
Rev. for July, 1840, 84. "Both 
parties," says Guizot, Essay on Wash- 
ington, 83, "were sincerely friendly 
to a republican government and the 
union of the states. The names which 
they gave one another, for the salve 
of mutual disparagement, were still 
more false than their original denomi- 
nations were imperfect and improperly 


chap, ever intended, 1 was perfectly just ; for both parties, " practi- 
J^^ cally, and so far as the immediate affairs of the country were 
1789. concerned, differed less than they either said or thought, in 
their mutual hatred." 2 It may be that " the federal party 
was, at the same time, aristocratic — favorable to the prepon- 
derance of the higher classes, as well as to the power of the 
central government ; " and that " the democratic party was 
also the local party — desiring at once the supremacy of the 
majority and the almost entire independence of the state gov- 
ernments." 3 But if such a difference did exist, the lines of 
demarcation were not closely drawn, and they were frequently 
overstepped on one side and on the other. 

The benefits to all the states from the adoption of the 
federal constitution were immediate and substantial. Order 
promptly arose out of confusion. Mutual confidence was 
strengthened. The arts and employments of life were en- 
couraged. Commercial enterprise rapidly increased. The 
credit of the government, by wise and efficient provisions in 
the finances of the country, the regulation of foreign trade, 
and the collection of the revenues, was speedily restored. And 
the nation, from a state of embarrassment and weakness, made 
steady advances to wealth, to power, and to vital prosperity. 4 

opposed to each other." On the June 15, "Washington very truly says, 

composition of the two parties, see " The misfortune is, that the enemies 

Tucker's Life of Jefferson, i. 483-485. to the government, always more ac- 

1 What does Mr. Jefferson mean, tive than its friends, and always on 
when, in speaking of his first inaugu- the watch to give it a stroke, neglect 
ral address, he says, it " was, from the no opportunity to aim one. If they 
nature of the case, all profession and tell the truth, it is not the whole 
promise " ? Tucker's Life of Jeffer- truth, — by which means one side 
son, ii. 183. only of the picture is exhibited; 

2 Guizot's Essay on Washington, whereas, if both sides were seen, it 
83. Comp. " Falkland," by Fisher might, and probably would, assume a 
Ames, in Works, 147, ed. 1809. different form in the opinion of just 

3 The Corresrjondence of Washing- and candid men, who are disposed to 
ton shows at how early a date these measure matters by a continental 
divisions appeared ; and Dr. Stuart, scale." Writings, x. 97. 

in a friendly letter of June 2, 1790, 4 Ames's Eulogy on Washington, 

opened the "catalogue of public dis- in Works, 122; Bradford, iii. 17, 18. 

contents." In his reply to this letter, Comp. Tucker's Life of Jefferson, i. 354. 


The public debt was still large ; and the most intelligent chap. 
acknowledged the difficulty of removing it at once. At the J^^ 
close of the revolution, the continental or national debt was 1790. 
upwards of forty-two millions of dollars ; and every state had 
a large demand on the general government for services ren- 
dered for the common defence, amounting, in all, to twenty- 
five millions of dollars more. 1 Each state, likewise, was 
burdened with private debts for expenses incurred for its own 
protection ; and the debt of Massachusetts, on this account, 
was nearly five millions of dollars, without taking into the 
estimate its liability to pay the demands of those who held the 
paper money emitted during the war. The available resources 
of the state were inadequate to discharge this debt ; and for 
several years the interest had not been paid. Hence notes 
were issued to creditors, which were sold at a ruinous discount 
by those whose necessities required the sacrifice. 2 

To remedy these difficulties, and at the same time to revive 
public confidence, the General Congress, in the sessions of 1790, 
at the instance of Hamilton, the secretary of the treasury, who Aug. 4. 
had made a report on the subject, agreed to assume nearly 
twenty-two millions of dollars of the debts of the states, which 
were considered to be properly chargeable to the government ; 
and this sum was apportioned among the states according to 
the expenses which each had incurred — four millions of dol- 
lars of the debt of Massachusetts being thus assumed. 3 With 

1 The national debt, in 1790, was and Expenditures of the U. S., 2d 
$54,000,000, exclusive of the state ed., Philad., 1801. 
debts, which had not then been as- 2 Bradford, iii. 18, 19. An act for 
sumed — an increase of $12,000,000 bringing to a speedy settlement all 
in about seven years, principally owing accounts subsisting between towns, 
to the failure to pay the interest which and such persons as may have been 
had accrued. Of this sum, nearly employed by them in enlisting and 
$12,000,000 were due to foreign pow- paying soldiers and furnishing sup- 
ers, — to the court of France, and to plies for the late continental army, was 
private lenders in Holland, with a passed February 13, 1789, in order to 
small sum to Spain ; and to this debt ascertain the state of public affairs. 
a preference was given, to sustain the Mass. Laws for 1788-9, chap. liv. 
national credit. Comp. Gallatin's 3 On the national debt, see Jour- 
Views of the Public Debt, Receipts, nals Senate and House of Reps. ; Hist 


chap, this arrangement, however, the people were not fully satisfied ; 

J^^ and the General Court, at a subsequent date, prayed the fed- 

1791. eral government to assume the residue of the debt of the 
commonwealth of a similar character ; but this was not imme- 

Nov. l. diately done, though commissioners were appointed to consider 
the subject, and report at a future time. When this report 

Feb 92 7 was ma ^e, i* was f° un( i that six out of the thirteen states had 
advanced more than their just proportion of the current ex- 
penses of the war, and seven less. The largest balance is said 
to have been in favor of South Carolina ; and as Massachu- 

1794. setts stood next, after the lapse of nearly two years, a million 
and a quarter of dollars, in addition to the former sum, was 
credited to the state — making, in all, between five and six 
millions assumed by the general government. It would ap- 
pear, therefore, in fact, that Massachusetts, which had expend- 
ed, in all, eighteen millions of dollars, bore the 'expenses of 
the war of the revolution to the large amount of eleven and a 
half millions more than was reimbursed, 1 though her debt was 
actually but five millions, the rest having been paid by almost 
incredible exertions and sacrifices during the war and after 
its close, 2 

Cong., chap. iii.,iv., and vii. ; Sparks's 000, $2,000,000 had been advanced 

Washington, x. 98 ; Pitkin's U. S., ii. by Congress during the war; and as 

337-345, 538 ; Tucker's Life of Jef- $5,250,000 were afterwards assumed, 

ferson, i. 324-332 ; Hildreth's U. S., the balance unpaid, and for which 

2d series, i. 152-174, 206-216, 323, the state was solely responsible, was 

392, 493; Bradford, iii. 19, 20, and $11,750,000. 

Hist. Fed. Gov't, 32, 70. Theodore 2 A portion of this money was raised 
Sedgwick, Elbridge Gerry, and Fisher by an excise on various articles of 
Ames, three of the representatives consumption, — chiefly such as were 
from Massachusetts, took part in the considered as luxuries ; but as the fed- 
debate on the assumption of the state eral government took this matter in 
debts ; and the principal opposition hand, and adopted a general system 
to this measure is said to have come of excise for the country, Massa- 
from those states which had expended chusetts was deprived of the benefits 
the least during the war. Jefferson of her own system, and was obliged 
was likewise opposed to this measure, in some other manner to provide for 
and, indeed, to nearly all the other the payment of her debt. For the 
measures of which Hamilton was in discussions in Congress on the tariff, 
favor. see Journals Senate and House of 
1 Of tins disbursement of $18,000,- Reps.; Hist. Cong., chap, iii.; Aus- 


The assumption, however, of a portion of the debt of the chap. 
state did not entirely relieve the people ; and the burdens VIIL 
which remained were, among some classes, a cause of loud and 1790 
frequent complaint. The credit of the general government, 1792. 
principally from its position and its conceived effectiveness, of 
course exceeded the credit of the state governments. The 
former had matured a system of finance, while the latter had 
not. Hence the paper of Massachusetts was offered in the 
market at depreciated rates ; and such was the distrust, real 
or professed, of the ability of the government to meet its de- 
mands, that few calculated with certainty upon the payment 
of the interest, much less the principal, of the sums for which 
it was indebted at any fixed time. An expectation was, 
indeed, cherished of obtaining large sums from the sale of the 
wild lands in the Province of Maine ; but, as the value of 
these lands was merely nominal, and the expense of their sur- 
vey was great, little was realized from this source. The 
lottery system had also its advocates ; but Governor Hancock, 
who was opposed on principle to this mode of raising money, 
had the wisdom and firmness to discourage the speculation, 
and the General Court soon became satisfied of its impolicy 
and folly. 1 

Public embarrassments, however, did not wholly check pri- 
vate enterprise ; and a system of internal improvements was f 1792. 
commenced in Massachusetts, which spread in a short time 
over the whole state. Several turnpikes were projected, and 
some were completed with despatch. 2 The public roads were 

tin's Life of Gerry, ii.; Hildreth's U. 1788, chap. xvii. So late as 1794, 

S., 2d series, i. 65-91, 96-101. Mad- the debt of the state was not fully 

ison introduced this subject ; and in cancelled ; and an act was passed at 

the debate which ensued Elbridge that date for its liquidation. Mass. 

Gerry, Benjamin Goodhue, and Laws for 1793-4, chap. xxix. 

Fisher Ames actively participated. 2 Laws of Mass. ii. In 1796-7, 

Lloyd's Congressional Debates. For additional acts were passed for estab- 

the Mass. Excise law, see Laws of lishing turnpike corporations, known 

Mass. for 1790, chaps, xiv. and xv. as the First, Second, and Third Mas- 

1 Bradford, iii. 25. Comp. Mass. sachusetts Turnpikes, which were lo- 

Laws for 1786, chap, xl., and for cated in different parts of the state. 



chap, repaired at the expense of the towns. 1 And a canal was pro- 
VIIL jected from Boston to the Connecticut River, and even to the 

1792. Hudson 

' advocates of this measure 

General Cobb and General Knox were the principal 
but as the enterprise, from its 
magnitude, was not duly appreciated, there was little disposi- 
tion to engage in it with effect. 2 Shortly after, however, the 
Jun?22. Middlesex Canal was projected and constructed, chiefly through 
the influence of James Sullivan, Loammi Baldwin, and the 
Hon. James Winthrop. 3 The proposal for a canal across 

1 Bradford, iii. 34. An act, pro- 
viding " for the erecting guide posts 
upon public roads," was passed Feb- 
ruary 28, 1795; and February 28, 
1797, an act was passed in addition to 
the several acts then in force respect- 
ing highways. Mass. Laws for 1794 
-5, chap, lxii., and for 1797, chap. 
lvi. On the condition of roads gen- 
erally in the U. S., in 1796, see Am. 
Annual Reg. for 1796, 34-40. 

2 Mass. Laws for 1792, chap. lvii. ; 
Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 635 ; 
Bradford, iii. 34. A short canal, a 
mile and a quarter in length, was dug 
between Newburyport and Hampton, 
N. H., in 1791. Coffin's Newbury, 
265. Several acts were also passed, 
incorporating companies to open ca- 
nals and build bridges, from 1791 to 
1796. Mass. Laws for 1791, chaps, 
vii., xxi., xxxvi., lxi., lxiii., and for 

1792, chaps, xxii., xxxv., liii., lx., lxiv., 
lxxi.. lxxxviii. ; Mass. Mag. for Feb. 

1793, 125. The canals referred to 
were from the head of New Meadow 
River to Merry Meeting Bay, in 
Maine, and the bridges were over 
the Merrimac, between Chelmsford 
and Dracut, Andover and Methuen, 
Haverhill and Bradford, and in the 
county of Essex ; over the Connecti- 
cut, between Montague and Green- 
field ; over Charles River, from West 
Boston to Cambridge; across New 
Meadow River; and over Miller's 
River, in Hampshire county. In 1796, 
an act was likewise passed for " giving 
a new appellation to a corporation in- 
stituted A. D. 1795, for bringing fresh 

water into Boston by subterranean 
pipes ; " and an act was passed, Feb- 
ruary 15, 1797, incorporating Joshua 
Thomas, Esq., and others, for con- 
veying fresh water by pipes into the 
town of Plymouth. Mass. Laws for 
1796-7, chaps, i. and xlii. For fur- 
ther remarks on canals in the U. S., 
see the Am. Aimual Reg. for 1796, 
24-34 ; and for a list of . canals in 
France, in 1811, see Niles's "Weekly 
Register, i. 98. 

3 MS. Records of the Corp. in 
the possession of T. C. Amory, Jun., 
Esq. ; Mass. Laws for 1793, chap. 
xxi. ; Bradford, iii. 35. The first 
meeting of the company was held 
May 9, 1793, and the act of incorpo- 
ration was passed June 22. Addi- 
tional acts were passed in 1794, 1798, 
1799, 1802, 1812, 1814. Mr. John 
L. Sullivan, of Boston, a son of Gov- 
ernor Sullivan, yet living in New York, 
was early interested in steam naviga- 
tion, and, being employed by a " re- 
spectable incorporation to manage 
and finish then canal and construct 
others," he turned his attention to the 
invention of a steam tow boat, to be 
used on these canals, and so far " de- 
monstrated the practicability of em- 
ploying steamboats thereon," that he 
memorialized the legislature of Massa- 
chusetts, in 1814, for the formation of 
a company to navigate the Connecti- 
cut, having already a boat in operation 
on the Merrimac. Comp. Mass. Laws 
for June, 1811, chap, xxiii. ; and see 
his Answer to Colden, Troy, 1823. 
On the subject of steam navigation, 


Cape Cod, to unite the waters of Buzzard's Bay, on the south- chap. 
west, and of Barnstable Bay, on the north-east, was of an J^L 
earlier date ; and a committee was appointed, by the author- 1791. 
ity of the General Court, to survey the grounds and ascertain 
the practicability of the work; but, though they reported 
favorably, the plan was not prosecuted, as several intelligent 
men had doubts of its utility, particularly at the season of the 
year when such a passage would be most needed ; and the 
state was not in a condition to engage in so expensive a 
work. 1 

The revision of the laws of the state was a matter of 
primary importance ; and, mainly through the influence of 
Governor Hancock, the criminal law was ameliorated — con- F l J h s \ 3 
finement to hard labor being substituted, in some cases, for 
disgraceful punishments in public. 2 An experiment of this 
kind was made on Castle Island, in the harbor of Boston ; 
and the state prison at Charlestown was built a few years 1802. 
after. 3 A change was likewise made in the law for the due 1792. 

& Mar. 8. 

observance of the Sabbath, though substantially but a reenact- 
ment of former laws, which had been in force from the settle- 
ment of the country. The provisions, however, were less 

comp. Doc. Hist. N. Y. ii. 101 1-1 102 ; a more salutary as well as a more hu- 

Fairfax's Memorial, Washington, mane punishment. He also expressed 

1816 ; and Niles's Reg. in. Add., and the opinion that capital punishments 

v. Add. The idea of steam navigation should be few. Bradford, hi. 37. 

was certainly suggested in the United 3 Bradford, iii. 37, 85. The first 

States as early as 1788. appropriations for this purpose were 

1 Bradford, iii. 33. This project $100,000, for the purchase of lands 
was revived in 1818, and a route was and the erection of buildings. The 
surveyed by Loammi Baldwin, at the valuable labors of the Prison Disci- 
expense of Israel Thorndike, Thomas pline Society should not be forgotten 
H. Perkins, and other gentlemen of in this connection ; and its able re- 
Boston ; but no canal was dug. N. ports embody a mass of facts relative 
Am. Review for Jan. 1827, 13. to the treatment of criminals of the 

2 Laws of Mass. for 1788-9, chap, highest importance to the public wel- 
liii. Governor Hancock, in his speech fare. This society was organized in 
to the legislature, in January, 1792, Boston, June 30, 1825, and is now, 
condemned public whipping and crop- consequently, in the 32d year of its 
ping for theft, which were still prac- age ; and it has embraced, among 
tised in the state, and recommended its members, many distinguished citi- 
confinement to hard labor as probably zens and true-hearted philanthropists. 

VOL. III. 21 


chap, severe in prohibiting all kinds of secular employment ; but 
J^L travelling on business was forbidden, as well as all traffic, and 

1792. keeping open of shops and stores ; and public recreations were 
prohibited under a pecuniary mulct. But the law was fre- 
quently disregarded ; and then, as previously, it was found 
difficult to enforce, by penal enactments, a strict observance 
of the Sabbath or a regular attendance on public worship. 1 

The laws for promoting public education were attended 
Jun. 25. with more favorable results ; and recommendations were made 
June ky the governor for the appropriation of lands in the District 
of Maine, for the support of schools and of the gospel minis- 
try in that part of the state, and for a grant to Harvard Col- 
lege, whose funds were inadequate for the support of its 
1791 instructors. 2 The establishment of academies, also, dates from 


1793. this period ; and a number of these seminaries were incorpo- 
178 ^ rated by the legislature. 3 By the law of 1789, all towns in 

the state having two hundred families were required to sup- 
port a grammar school, agreeably to former usage, and, in 
addition, were ordered to employ for instructors of youth 
those who had been educated at some college, and were able 
to teach the Greek and Latin languages. In towns where the 
inhabitants were less, it was required that such as were quali- 
fied to teach the English language correctly should be engaged 

1 Mass, Laws for 1792, chap. Iviii. ; ton, Marblehead, HallowelljWestfield, 
Bradford, iii. 38. In 1796, and in Groton, Portland, &c. It was at first 
1800, other laws were passed on the apprehended that the establishment 
subject of public worship, and for the of these academies would be unfavor- 
maintenance of teachers of religion able to the support of the grammar 
and morality; and, in 1811, further schools, as the towns in their vicinity 
changes were made. Laws of Mass. would avail themselves of the advan- 
for 1796, 1800, and 1811; Bradford, tages afforded by such seminaries for 
iii. 72-76. a classical education, to the neglect 

2 Bradford, iii. 29. of the humbler temples of learning ; 

3 Mass. Laws for 1791, 1792, and but the evil was remedied by sub- 
1793 ; Bradford, iii. 47 ; Mass. Mag. sequent legislation, though it has 
for 1792 ; W. Barry's Hist. Framing- never been wholly removed. Wil- 
ham, 79 ; J. S. Barry's Hist. Hano- hams College, in the county of Berk- 
over, 93 ; Brooks's "Hist. Medford, shire, was incorporated * in 1793. 
291. Academies were incorporated Mass. Laws for 1793, chap. xv. 

in Berwick, Fryeburg, Machias, Taun- 


in the business of education. 1 By a " traditionary blindness/' chap. 
as has been " charitably assumed," " our early fathers did not J^^ 
see that females . required and deserved instruction equally 1789. 
with males ; " hence the " first provisions for primary schools 
were confined chiefly to boys." But light soon broke in, and 
girls were " allowed to attend the public schools two hours 
per day." With this point gained, the revolution in public 
opinion was rapid and encouraging ; and, before the close of 
the eighteenth century, in nearly every town provision was 
made for the education of girls, especially in the summer. 2 

The first Sunday school in America seems also to have 1790. 


originated about this period in Philadelphia ; but so little and 


were the advantages of such schools appreciated or understood, March, 
that it was said to be a " pity " the benevolence of their found- 
ers "did not extend so far as to afford them tuition on days 
when it is lawful to follow such pursuits, and not thereby lay a 
foundation for the profanation of the Sabbath." 3 The precise 
period when Sunday schools were established in Massachusetts 

1 Mass. Laws for 1789, chap. xix. ; another change was made, and girls 
Bradford, ti. 339, 340. Further at- .were allowed, equally with boys, to 
tention was paid to the subject of attend the public schools, both in 
education under the administration winter and summer. 

of Governor Strong, and a more em- 3 MS. Communication of Lewis G. 

cient system of instruction was in- Pray ; Newburyport Herald, for Jan. 

troduced. 12, 1791 ; Mass. Mag. for May, 1793 ; 

2 Brooks's Hist, of Medford, 281 ; Coffin's Newbury, 265. The cele- 
Coffin's Hist. Newbury, 265 ; Felt's brated Matthew Carey was interested 
Ipswich, 90. In Boston, girls are said in the establishment of this school, 
not to have attended the public schools, with Bishop White and Benjamin 
for some years before and after the Rush; and in his Am. Museum for 
revolution; but in 1790, areform.was 1788, iv. 32, note, Mr. Carey ex- 
introduced, through the instrumen- pressed his regret that "no Sunday 
tality of Caleb Bingham, a native of schools have yet been established 
Salisbury, Ct., and one of the earliest here." I have been informed, how- 
graduates of Dartmouth College, after ever, by Mr. Lewis G. Pray, that a 
its removal to Hanover. The basis Sunday school was established in 
of this reform was the admission of Ephrata, Lancaster comity, Pa., as 
girls to the free schools during the early as the middle of the last cen- 
warmer months, or from April to Oc- tury, by Ludwig Thacker. In 1783, 
tober, and this plan was carried into also, Bishop Asbury is said to have 
effect for about thirty years, when, in established a Sunday school in Han- 
1820, or very soon after, through the over, Va. 

exertions of Mr. William B. Fowle, 



Oct. 8 

chap, is not settled ; but there were several in existence before the 

J^ year 1820. 1 

Upon the death of Governor Hancock, which occurred in 
the fall of 1793, the functions of the chief magistracy de- 
volved upon Samuel Adams, the lieutenant governor of the 
state, then in the seventy-third year of his age, who was chosen 
governor in the following year and in the two years succeed- 
ing. The character of Mr. Adams has been elsewhere alluded 
to ; 2 and, as one of the firmest patriots in the state, he was 
every way worthy the confidence of the people. For fifty 
years, " his pen, his tongue, his activity were constantly exerted 

1 Before the year 1700, it was cus- 
tomary, in several, if not all, the 
churches of New England, to cate- 
chise children, male and female, on 
Sunday, at the close of the morning 
service ; and this custom was followed 
both in the Plymouth colony and 
the colony of the Massachusetts Bay. 
MS. Communication of Lewis G. Pray; 
Ellis's Hist. Roxbury ; Records of the 
Plymouth Church. Subsequent to 
this date, the first Sunday school in 
Boston is said to have been established 
in April, 1791, and embraced in its 
objects " the instruction of both sexes, 
under a certain age, who were de- 
barred from week-day instruction by 
condition of life, habits of industry, or 
other circumstances." It was sup- 
ported by a liberal subscription of 
many gentlemen, but how long it was 
continued is not known. In 1797, 
a Sunday school was established at 
Pawtucket, R. I., under the auspices 
of Samuel Slater, Esq., the "father 
of cotton manufactures in the United 
States," in connection with his facto- 
ries, and was under the superintend- 
ence of the Rev. Mr. Collier, af- 
terwards well known as a Baptist 
clergyman of Charlestown, Mass., 
and a minister to the poor for that 
denomination in the city of Boston. 
In 1793, an article appeared in the 
Mass. Mag. for March, signed " A.," 
advocating Sunday schools. The first 

movement on this subject in Salem 
was in 1807. Felt's Salem, i. 495. 
In the foregoing schools, secular 
instruction was the predominant, 
while the religious element was 
only a secondary element. The 
first school on the strictly modern 
and American plan, wholly devoted 
to the religious instruction of the 
young, is said to have been established 
in Beverly, in 1810, by Miss Prince 
and Miss Hill, who were connected 
with the society under the charge of 
the Rev. Dr. Abbott. _ In 1812, a 
school was established in connection 
with the society of the Rev. Dr. 
Lowell, in Boston; and in 1814, 
another in Cambridgeport, in the so- 
ciety of the Rev. Thomas B. Gannett. 
The Salem Street, or Christ Church 
Sunday school, in Boston, was estab- 
lished in 1815, and was conducted on 
the monitorial plan, by the late Joseph 
W. Ingraham, Esq. The school con- 
nected with the society of the Rev. 
Dr. Sharp was established in 1816, 
and, in the same year, the " Society 
for the Moral and Religious Instruction 
of the Poor " was established in Bos- 
ton, under whose auspices Sunday- 
schools were organized and brought 
into general favor among the Ortho- 
dox churches in that city, and through- 
out New England. MS. Communi- 
cation of Lewis G. Pray. 
2 Vol. i. 259. 


for his country, without fee or reward." Some have called chap. 
him " the first in the resolute band of patriots who contem- _^^ 
plated and effected the independence of the United States." 1793. 
But whether this honor is conceded to him or not, — as it is 
difficult to say certainly who first advanced this idea, — cer- 
tain it is that he was one of the most active of that band, and 
that he contributed materially to the success of the revolution. 
11 James Otis, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock," says one 
who knew them well, and who was himself not lacking in. 
devotion to liberty, x " were the three most essential charac- 
ters ; and Great Britain knew it, though America does not. 
Great, and important, and excellent characters, aroused and 
excited by these, arose in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, 
South Carolina, and in all the other states ; but these three 
were the first movers — the most constant, steady, persevering 
springs, agents, and most disinterested sufferers and firmest 
pillars of the whole revolution." "Without the character of 
Samuel Adams," he adds*, " the true history of the American 
revolution can never be written." 

The man of whom such things could be said deserved well 
of his country ; and though the " ingratitude of republics " has 
been a theme of frequent and bitter complaint, in this instance, 
at least, the charge was not justified, for the public was not 
ungrateful to its servant. Mr. Adams, it is true, was known 
as a democrat ; and democracy, with many, then as since, was 
a term of reproach. He was not, at first, an ardent admirer 
of the federal constitution, being one of the stanchest advo- 
cates of state rights ; and he had joined with Governor Han- 
cock, in the Massachusetts convention, in the proposition for 

1 John Adams, Corresp. in Works, all others, for inexorable vengeance, 

x. 263. " He was born and tempered the two men most to be dreaded by 

a wedge of steel, to split the knot of them — Samuel Adams and John 

lignum vit(E which tied North Amer- Hancock; and had not James Otis 

ica to Great Britain. Blunderheaded been dead, or worse than dead, his 

as were the British ministry, they had name would have been at the head 

sagacity enough to discriminate from of the TRIUMVIRATE." 


chap, amendments to the constitution, to prevent the national gov- 

J^J^, eminent from assuming undelegated powers. 1 Yet, on taking 
1790. the oath of lieutenant governor, he did not hesitate to declare 
his fealty to the laws of the land. "I shall be called upon," 
said he, " to make a declaration — and I shall do it most 
cheerfully — that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is, and 
of right ought to be, a free, sovereign, and independent state. 
I shall be called upon to make another declaration with the 
same solemnity — to support the constitution of the United 
States. I see no inconsistency in this ; for it must be intended 
that these constitutions should mutually aid and support each 
other. 7 ' 2 

1789-93. Previous to the commencement of the administration of Mr. 
Adams, the French revolution, whose progress was watched 
with the deepest interest, and which was " constant in nothing 
but its vicissitudes and its promises," 3 burst forth in Europe, 
and soon reached a crisis which threatened the peace of the 
civilized world. In the earliest period of this revolution, the 
citizens of Massachusetts, and of the United States generally, 
notwithstanding there were sturdy doubters and sceptics, were 
in favor of the social and political reform which it was ex- 
pected would take place in that country ; and even in England 
there was a large and respectable class which entertained 
similar views. Hence, in Massachusetts, as well as in other 
states, public festivities were held, in which all classes united 
" to manifest their joy for a regenerated nation which had long 
been governed with despotic sway." At some of these meet- 

jan.2i. ings, ludicrous scenes occurred ; and the behavior of the clergy, 
and even of " potent and honorable senators," in more than 
one instance, was difficult to be reconciled to that dignity of 

1 N. Am. Review for Oct. 1827, sir, is my misfortune, not my fault." 
274 ; Bradford, iii. 28 ; Debates in the 2 Bradford, iii. 29, 46. 
Mass. Convention, 162. " I have 3 Ames's Eulogy on Washington, 

had my doubts of the constitution. I Comp. also his speech on the British 

could not digest every part of it as treaty of 1794, in Works, 71. 
readily as some gentlemen. But this, 



deportment which was becoming their station. 1 " Citizen chap. 
Cuff " and " Citizen Cato " were familiar appellatives given to J^J^ 
servants ; and they, in their turn, retorted the compliment by 1793. 
addressing executive officers as " Citizen A," or " Citizen B." 
But the height to which this extravagance was carried wrought 
its cure ; and those who 

" Threw their caps 
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon, 
Shouting their emulation," 

were among the first to repent their folly. 2 

The evils, however, which sprang from this source, were far 
less serious than others which followed. The conduct of the 
French minister, " Citizen Genet," in his demands upon the 
government, and his attempts to exercise within the national 
jurisdiction powers which were at once both improper and 
mischievous, was opposed by the prudence and wisdom of 
Washington, who had recently entered upon his second presi- 
dential term, 3 and who foresaw the consequences which must 
inevitably ensue should the nation be swerved from the neu- 



1 The celebration referred to in the 
text was in honor of the repulse of 
the Duke of Brunswick, and of Du- 
mqurier's temporary conquest of the 
Austrian Netherlands. An ox, roasted 
whole, and covered with decorations, 
with the flags of France and of the 
United States displayed from its 
horns, was elevated on a car, drawn 
by sixteen horses, and paraded through 
the streets, followed by four carts, 
drawn by twenty-four horses, and 
containing sixteen hundred loaves of 
bread and two hogsheads of punch. 
While these viands were distributed 
among an immense crowd collected in 
State Street, a select party, of three 
hundred persons, sat down in Faneuil 
Hall, to a civic feast, over which Lieu- 
tenant Governor Adams presided, 
assisted by the French consul. The 
children from all the schools were 

also marshalled in State Street, on 
the occasion ; and to each child was 
given a cake, stamped with the words 
" Liberty and Equality." A subscrip- 
tion was likewise raised to liberate 
prisoners confined for debt. And, in 
the evening, balloons ascended, bon- 
fires blazed, and the State House and 
other buildings were splendidly illu- 
minated. Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 
i. 412. 

2 Comp. Marshall's Washington, v. 
423, and Bradford, hi. 44, note. 

3 His second term commenced 
March 4, 1793 ; and, at this, as at the 
former election, he received the unan- 
imous vote of the electors. Mr. Ad- 
ams received 77 out of 132 votes cast 
for vice president — the rest being 
divided between Clinton, Jefferson, 
and Aaron Burr. 


chap, tral position which it was its policy to maintain. 1 Genet, 
^J^, whose secret instructions were in danger of being thwarted, 2 
1793. resented this conduct of Washington, and appealed to the 
people in behalf of "republican France," in whose freedom 
America had an interest ; and, influenced by their attachment 
to the principles of liberty, many were inclined to sustain him 
in this appeal. But the zeal for " equality," thus professed, 
was carried to an excess closely bordering upon licentious- 
ness ; and the publications, in particular, in Freneau's and 
Bache's papers, reflecting upon the conduct of Washington, 
were "outrages upon common decency." 3 Dissensions in the 
cabinet likewise arose, and were the occasion of political dis- 
putes and resentments which disturbed the peace of the nation 
for years. Then was it that "democratic societies" were 
organized ; 4 and then was it that Jefferson, in the warmth of 
his zeal, if not from less reputable motives, brought against 
Washington the unjust accusation of being a monarchist. 5 It 

1 Washington's proclamation of government, and the officers of it, are 
neutrality was issued April 22, 1793. to be the constant theme for news- 
Sparks's Washington, x. 535; Aus- paper abuse, — and this, too, without 
tin's Life of Gerry, ii. 167 ; Pitkin's condescending to investigate the mo- 
U. S., ii. 358, 359; Hildreth's U. S., fives or the facts, — it will be impos- 
2d series, i. 415. " This act of firm- sible, I conceive, for any man living 
ness," says Fisher Ames, " at the haz- to manage the helm, or keep the 
ard of his reputation and peace, en- machine together." 

titles him to the name of the first of 4 On these societies, see Sparks's 
patriots. Time was gained for the Washington, x. 454, 562 ; Tucker's 
citizens to recover their virtue and Life of Jefferson, i. 488 et seq. ; Pit- 
good sense; and they soon recovered kin's U. S., ii. 387 ; Hildreth's U. S., 
them. The crisis was passed, and 2d series, i. 524 et seq. "Although 
America was saved." Tucker, Life a democrat myself," wrote Patrick 
of Jefferson, i. 422, 442, says this proc- Henry to Henry Lee, June 27, 1795, 
lamation was not cordially received by " I like not the late Democratic So- 
the people, and their discontents were cieties. As little do I like their sup- 
soon openly manifested. pression by law. Silly things may 

2 For these instructions, see Am. amuse for a while, but in a little time 
State Papers, i. ; Pitkin's U. S., ii. men will perceive their delusions." 
360, 361. _ 5 Comp. Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 

3 Washington to Henry Lee, July i. 341-344. " I do believe," he after- 
21, 1793, in Sparks's Washington, x. wards wrote, "that General Washing- 
359 ; Marshall's Washington, v. 410 ton had not a firm confidence in the 
et seq. See, also, Washington to durability of our government. He 
Edmund Randolph, Aug. 26, 1792, was naturally distrustful of men, and 
in Sparks's Washington, x. 287. " If inclined to gloomy apprehensions ; and 



was on this occasion that the illustrious patriot was so far chap. 
moved by the taunts of his persecutors as to become excited, ^^_ 
and lose his self-command. " He had never but once," he 1793. 
said, " repented having slipped the moment of resigning his 
office ; and that was every moment since." But he speedily 
recovered his accustomed equanimity, and no one more deeply 
than himself regretted this misstep. 1 The difficulties between 
Hamilton and Jefferson, which had been brewing for some 
time, seemed to threaten serious consequences, and the latter 
contemplated resigning his seat in the cabinet ; but he was 
solicited to remain, and readily agreed to postpone his resig- 
nation to the close of the year, in spite of the " immense diffi- 
culty " of his equivocal position. 2 

I was ever persuaded that a belief that 
we must at length end in something 
like a British constitution, had some 
weight in his adoption of the cere- 
monies of levees, birthdays, pompous 
meetings with Congress, and other 
forms of the same character, calcu- 
lated to prepare us gradually for a 
change, which he believed possible, 
and so let it come on with as little 
shock as might be to the public mind. 
These are my opinions of General 
Washington, which I would vouch 
at the judgment seat of God, having 
been formed on an acquaintance of 
thirty years." Comp. Tucker's Life 
of Jefferson, i. 388 et seq., ii. 349 ; 
Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 62, 63. 
Yet the same gentleman, in his letter 
to Van Buren, attempted «to prove 
that he had retained Washington's 
confidence to the last, though it is 
evident from his own writings, es- 
pecially his Mazzei letter, that he 
" hated him with as much energy as 
he did all the other distinguished fed- 
eralists " who had stood in the way 
of his political advancement. See 
farther Sparks's Washington, x. 432, 
433,561, and xi. 137-140; Picker- 
ing's Keview, 24 ; Tucker's Life of 
Jefferson, i. 519-528; ii. 25. "It 
must be admitted," says the latter, 

Life of Jefferson, ii. 43, " that if Mr. 
Jefferson experienced the most viru- 
lent hatred and the most unfounded 
calumnies of his adversaries, he was, 
occasionally, not far behind them in 
credulity and injustice, and that he did 
not hesitate to attribute to them pur- 
poses which no honest mind could 
form, and no rational mind would at- 
tempt." For a note on Mazzei, see 
Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 168, 169. 
He was an Italian gentleman, of good 
education, who came to America a 
little before the revolution, for the 
ostensible purpose of cultivating the 
vine, bringing with him twelve labor- 
ers, and beginning his experiment at 
a little farm called Colle, in Albe- 
marle, which he obtained from Mr. 
Jefferson by purchase or loan. At 
the time this letter was written, he 
had left the United States, and re- 
turned to Europe. 

1 Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 432. 
On the Langhorne letter, of 1797, 
which seems to have again implicated 
Jefferson in an attempt to defame 
Washington, see Sparks's Washing- 
ton, xi. 218, 220, 227, 2S9, 292, 501 
et seq. ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 
ii. 122-124. 

2 Sparks's Washington, x. 306, 
307, 365, 390, 515-526- Marshall's 


chap. The conduct of Genet, in the mean time, became more 
J^^ insolent, and his letters to Washington were conceived in 
1793. terms of great disrespect. Indeed, so far did his violence 
extend, and so far was he deluded by the flattery of his fol- 
lowers with the hope of achieving a victory over the presi- 
dent, that he had fully persuaded himself he should soon be 
able to have every thing his own way. But the people were 
not idle or indifferent spectators of his course. Their national 
pride was touched ; and their feelings of reverence for one 
who had served them so long and so faithfully led them, at 
length, to side with the government in silencing the noisy 
enthusiasm of the demagogue. His recall was, therefore, 
insisted upon ; and though the more zealous partisans of 
France labored, in the newspapers and by other means, to 
check the tide of public sentiment, and defend the course of 
the humbled minister, their efforts were unavailing. Yet the 
determination which was expressed, to allow no foreign inter- 
ference between the people and the government, was coupled 
with assurances of friendship for France ; nor did any forget 
their indebtedness to that nation for its valuable aid in the war 
of the revolution. 1 

Washington, v. 359; Jefferson's objects of severe attack; and Hamil- 

Worki, ii. 290 ; iv. 492 et seq. ; ton, who was considered as the author 

Tucker's Life of Jefferson, i. 333 et of these schemes, was opposed by 

seq. ; i. 363-369 ; N. Am. Review Jefferson and his adherents. With 

for Oct. 1827 ; Bradford's Hist. Fed. John Adams Jefferson was apparently 

Gov't. 53-55 ; Statesman's Manual, on more friendly terms ; though both 

i. 83 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. Adams and Hamilton were, in his 

291 ./et seq., 357 et seq., 434, 453 ; estimatio%, leagued in a conspiracy to 

Pitkin's U. S. ii. 353. A modification overturn the republican institutions of 

, of parties had taken place by this the United States, and to substitute a 

time — -the federalists having become monarchy and an aristocracy in their 

the advocates of the financial scheme place — the monarchy being princi- 

recommended by the secretary of the pally patronized by Hamilton, and the 

treasury, and of the great and im- aristocracy by Adams. Tucker's Life 

portant measures of the administra- of Jefferson, i. 349. Comp. also, on 

tion, and the anti-federalists having this subject, the pamphlet entitled 

subsided into opponents of those meas- "An Enquiry into the Principles and 

ures. The funding system generally, Tendency of Certain Public Measures," 

the assumption of the* state debts, the printed at Philad., in 1794, and aimed 

incorporation of a national bank, and against Hamilton's measures, 
the duties on domestic spirits, were 1 True Picture of the U. S. of Am., 



Difficulties with England likewise occurred at this time, in chap. 
consequence of depredations upon the commerce of the United VIIL 
States, and the passage of the celebrated " orders in council." 1793. 
Instead, however, of resorting to force for redress, — though 17 v 94 / 
an embargo for thirty days and sequestrating resolutions were Jan ' 8 * 
advocated by some, — a special embassy was instituted by Apr. 16. 
Washington ; and John Jay, a man of the loftiest and most 
disinterested patriotism, was despatched to the court of St. May 13. 
James's, for the purpose of negotiation. 1 This prudent meas- 
ure was censured by the opponents of the administration as 
betraying a pusillanimity unbecoming the executive of an 
independent republic; and when a treaty was concluded, Nov.19. 
it was deprecated, before its articles were known, as a politi- 
cal evil which ought not to be suffered. Hostility to the 
mother country, which had been fostered by the revolution, 
was far from being eradicated ; and there was quite a large 
class, " clad in English broadcloth and Irish linen, who import- 
ed their conveniences from England and their politics from 

by a British Subject, London, 1807 ; 
Sparks's Washington, x. 387, 401, 
and message of Washington, in ibid, 
xii. 96 ; Pitkin's U. S. ii. 362-385 ; 
A Political Sketch of America, 19, 20 ; 
Tucker's Life of Jefferson, i. 424-438 ; 
Statesman's Manual, i. 85 ; Hildreth's 
U. S., 2d series, i. 434-441. "The 
best thing," wrote Washington to It. 
H. Lee, October 24, 1793, "that can 
be said of this agent [Genet] is, that 
he is totally unfit for the mission on 
which he is employed, unless, — which 
I hope is not the case, — contrary to 
the express and unequivocal declara- 
tion of his country made through 
himself, it is meant to involve us in 
all the horrors of a European war. 
This, or interested motives of his own, 
or having become the dupe and the 
tool of a party, is the only solution 
that can be given of his conduct." 
After his recall, Genet settled in 
America, and married a daughter of 
Governor Clinton, of New York. 

1 Sparks's Washington, x. 404- 
410, and App. xxii. ; Pitkin's U. S. ii. 
396-416; Tucker's Life of Jefferson, 
i. 481 et seq. ; Austin's Life of Gerry, 
ii. 174 ; Bradford, iii. 49, 50, and Hist. 
Fed. Gov't. 60-66 ; Hildreth's U. S., 
2d series, i. 440-556 ; Ames's Works, 
140; Carey's Olive Branch, 84, 85. 
On the previous order, issued by the 
King in council, June 8, 1793, see 
Sparks's Washington, x. 408; Pit- 
kin's U. S. ii. 396, and Hildreth's U. 
S., 2d series, i. 440. For the meas- 
ures moved in Congress, in conse- 
quence of these orders, see Sparks's 
Washington, x. 409 ; and for a dis- 
cussion of the conduct of Great Britain, 
see the pamphlet of Juriscola, entitled 
" An Examination of the Conduct of 
Great Britain respecting Neutrals." 
Philad., 1807; also, "Political Ob- 
servations," published in 1795; Ers- 
kine's View of the Causes and Con- 
sequences of the Present War with 


chap. France," who considered Great Britain as the principal ag- 

J^_ gressor, and as designing to monopolize all the advantages 
1795. of commercial intercourse between the two countries. 1 

The citizens of Boston, who in all periods of the history of 
the commonwealth had been accustomed to lead in political 
affairs, and whose views and opinions were generally, though 
not invariably, in unison with those of the people, assumed, on 
this occasion, to pass judgment upon the conduct of Washing- 
ton, and censured it more freely than circumstances warranted. 

July 10. Hence a public meeting was called for the purpose of remon- 
strating against the treaty, and, by a petition to the Senate, 
of preventing its ratification. Dr. Charles Jarvis was the 
principal speaker ; but there were not wanting those who 
objected to his views, and who considered the step inexpedient 
and improper. The constitution, it was said, had given to the 
President and Senate the exclusive power of concluding trea- 
ties ; and in the exercise of that power every good citizen was 
bound to acquiesce. Dawes, and Tudor, and Eustis were in 
favor of postponing the subject, or of referring it to a com- 
mittee to report at a future meeting, after a more perfect 
knowledge of the treaty. But the popular prejudice was 

July 13. strong on the other side ; and, at an adjourned meeting three 
days after, resolutions were passed to the effect that the treaty 
was " injurious to the commercial interests of the United 
States, derogatory to their national honor and independence, 
and might be dangerous to the peace and happiness of their 

and 15. citizens." 2 The Chamber of Commerce, which was soon after 

1 Mr. Jay arrived in England June ington, xi. 32, note, and App. No. 2 ; 

15, 1794, and concluded the treaty Hamilton's Works, vi. 2 et seq. ; Pit- 

with Lord Grenville, November 19, kin's U. S. ii. 442 et seq. ; Marshall's 

which was received by the president Washington, v. ; Tucker's Life of Jef- 

March 7, 1795, submitted to the ferson, i. 498; Statesman's Manual, 

Senate June 8, and its ratification i. 86. The treaty was published in 

advised June 24, with the exception the Am. State Papers, and in pam- 

of the 12th article, relating to the phlet form for distribution. 
West India trade. See Journals 2 Sparks's Washington, xi. 40, 57, 

Sen. and H. of Reps. ; Sparks's Wash- 71 ; The Treaty Discussed, &c, 28 et 



convened, took a more liberal view, and expressed their acqui- chap. 
escence in the adoption of the treaty ; and Washington, in his J^^, 
reply to their memorial, while he declared his regret at the 1795. 
" diversity of opinion which had been manifested on this occa- 
sion," expressed his " satisfaction to learn that the commercial 
part of his fellow-citizens, whose interests were thought to be 
most deeply affected, so generally considered the treaty as 
calculated, upon the whole, to procure important advantages 
to the country." "This sentiment," he added, " I trust, will 
be extended, as the provisions of the treaty become well un- 
derstood." 1 

seq., 73 et seq. ; Boston Centinel for 
July and Aug. 1795 ; Boston Chron. 
for July 13 and 16, 1795 ; Bradford, 
iii. 50, 51 ; Hildreth, 2d series, i. 540, 
-548. Similar meetings were held in 
New York, Philadelphia, and Charles- 
ton, S. C. ; and resolutions were passed 
denouncing the treaty and protesting 
against its ratification. The New York 
Chamber of Commerce, however, con- 
curred with the Boston Chamber in 
leaving the decision of the question 
with the constitutional authorities ; 
and it was, doubtless, this prudence 
of the conservative class which pre- 
vented the country from being plunged 
into a war. Comp. Sparks's Wash- 
ington, xi. App. x. ; Bradford's Hist. 
Fed. Gov't. 81. " It is indeed to be 
regretted," wrote Washington to Pick- 
ering, July 27, 1795, "that party 
disputes are now carried to such a 
length, and truth is so enveloped in 
mist and misrepresentation, that it is 
extremely difficult to know through 
what channel to seek it. This diffi- 
culty, to one who is of no party, and 
whose sole wish is to pursue, with 
undeviating steps, a path which would 
lead this country to respectability, 
wealth, and happiness, is exceedingly 
to be lamented. But such — for wise 
purposes it is to be presumed — is the 
turbulence of human passions in party 
disputes, when victory more than truth 
is the palm contended for, that the 
post of honor is a private station." 

1 The Treaty Discussed, &c, 138, 
139 ; Bradford, iii. 52. In the news- 
papers, speeches, and resolutions of 
the day, the treaty was opposed with 
considerable virulence; and it was 
condemned as " prostituting the dear- 
est rights of freemen, and laying them 
prostrate at the feet of royalty ; " — 
"a wanton sacrifice of the rights of 
this free nation ; " — " insulting to 
the dignity, injurious to the interests, 
dangerous to the security, and repug- 
nant to the constitution of the Unit- 
ed States ; " — ■ containing " conces- 
sions incompatible with the objects of 
the embassy, derogatory to the honor 
and injurious to the interests of Amer- 
ica, and openly and pointedly hostile 
to the cause of France ; " — pregnant 
with "many evils that threaten our 
ruin ; " — " injurious to the agricul- 
ture, manufactures, and commerce 
of the United States ; " — " invading 
the constitution and legislative au- 
thority of the country; abandoning 
their important and well-founded 
claims against the British govern- 
ment ; imposing unjust and impolitic 
restraints on their commerce; con- 
ceding, without an equivalent, im- 
portant advantages to Great Britain ; 
hostile and ungrateful to France ; 
committing our peace with that great 
republic ; unequal in every respect to 
America ; hazarding her internal peace 
and prosperity, and derogating from 
her sovereignty and independence." 


The reply to the citizens of Boston was couched in different 
terms. " In every act of my administration/"' said he, " I have 
1795. sought the happiness of my fellow-citizens. My system for the 
* attainment of this object has uniformly been, to overlook all 
personal, local, and partial considerations ; to contemplate the 
United States as one great whole ; to confide that sudden 
impressions, when erroneous, would yield to candid reflection ; 
and to consult chiefly the substantial and permanent interests 
of our country. Nor have I departed from this line of con- 
duct on the occasion which has produced the resolutions con- 
tained in your letter. 

" Without a predilection for my own judgment, I have 
weighed with attention every argument which has at any time 
been brought into view. But the constitution is the guide 
. which I can never abandon. It has assigned to the President 
the power of making treaties, with the advice and consent of 
the Senate. It was doubtless supposed that these two branches 
of government would combine, without passion, and with the 
best means of information, those facts and principles upon 
which the success of our foreign relations will always depend ; 
that they ought not to substitute for their own convictions the 
opinions of others, or to seek the truth through any channel 
but that of a temperate and well-informed investigation. 
Under this persuasion, I have resolved on the manner of exe- 
cuting the duty before me." 1 

Happy for all parties had these wise counsels been properly 
heeded. But the prejudices and passions excited by the rati- 

Comp. Charleston Gazette for July Ames, of Massachusetts, delivered a 

14, 1795 ; Rutledge's Speech, in ibid, powerful speech in Congress, in favor 

for July 17, 1795; Savannah Reso- of the ratification of the treaty, which 

lutions ; Richmond Resolutions ; Pe- is given in his Works, 58 et seq., 

N. York Reso- and which was warmly commended 

lutions ; Philad. Memorial ; Trenton by President Washington. Spar 

Resolutions, &c. Washington, xi. 127. Comp. Hil- 

1 Boston Chron. for Aug. 17, 1795; dreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 605-615. 

Sparks's Washington, xi. 42 ; The For an able defence of the treaty, see 

Treaty Discussed, 137 ; Pitkin's U. S. Harper's Address to his Constituents, 

ii. 446, 447 ; Bradford, hi. 52. Fisher in Works, i. 1-46. 


fication of the treaty were too deep-seated to be immediately chap. 
removed, and riots among the lower classes were the natural Jl^^ 
result. These were continued in Boston for several nights ; 1795. 
houses were attacked ; the attorney general and sheriff were 
grossly insulted, and, in one instance, personally assaulted ; 
and Mr. Jay, the negotiator of the treaty, was burned in 
effigy. The governor, who was himself opposed to the treaty, 
■unwisely, as it would seem, declined to interfere for the sup- 
pression of the tumult, alleging that it was " a mere watermelon 
frolic — the harmless amusement of young persons ; " but a 
number of citizens voluntarily associated to prevent the con- 
tinuance of excesses, and their efforts were successful. 1 

In the spring of 1797, another change took place in the 1797. 
government of Massachusetts — Increase Sumner, for x several 
years a judge of the Supreme Judicial Court, being elected to 
the chief magistracy in the room of Mr. Adams, who, pleading 
the infirmities of age, had declined the suffrages of his fellow- 
citizens previous to the election. 2 Earlier in the same year, Mar. 4. 
a similar change had taken place in a higher quarter — John 
Adams, of Massachusetts, having succeeded Washington as 
president of the United States. 3 The sympathies of Mr. 

1 Bost. Chron. for Oct, 1, 1795, and He was a member of the General 
Mar. 14, 1796 ; Hildreth, 2d ser., i. 576, Court in 1776, and the three follow- 
598 ; Bradford, iii. 53 ; N. E. Gen. ing years, when he was chosen a sen- 
Hist. Reg. for April, 1854,119. After ator for the county of Suffolk. He 
the ratification of the treaty, Aug. 18, was a member of the convention which 
petitions against it were circulated formed the state constitution, in 1780, 
throughout the United States, and a and, in 1782, was made an associate 
number of these were presented, in justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, 
the winter of 1796, from different In 1789 he was a member of the con- 
parts of the Union. Pitkin's U. S. ii. vention for ratifying the federal con- 
454, 455. James Sullivan, Esq., stitution, and in 1797 was chosen 
afterwards Governor Sullivan, was at- governor. Knapp's Biog. Sketches 
torney general of Massachusetts at of eminent Lawyers, &c. ; -Mem. of 
this time ; and the riots alluded to in Gov. Sumner, in N. E. Gen. Hist, 
the text took place in Liberty Square. Reg. for April, 1854. The other 

2 Mr. Sumner was born in Rox- candidates at this time were Moses 
bury, November 27, 1746, and gradu- Gill and James Sullivan. 

ntecl at Harvard College, in 1767. In 3 Eibridge Gerry, the political friend 

1770 he was admitted to the bar, and of Jefferson, seems to have foreseen 

opened an office in his native town, the consequences of this election ; and 


chap. Sumner, as they had ever been enlisted in favor of Washing- 
J^^, ton and his administration, were eord'ally tendered to the new 
1797. incumbent of the national chair ; and, in his first address to 
the General Court, he publicly expressed his confidence in the 
talents and patriotism of Mr. Adams. In this declaration, he 
did but echo the sentiments of a majority of the people of 
Massachusetts ; for, as the new president was known to be 
friendly to commerce, and to the interests of the Southern as 
well as of the Eastern States, it was believed he would pursue 
the wise and prudent policy of his predecessor, the benefits of 
which were beginning to be felt and to be generally acknowl- 
edged. 1 

Unfortunately, however, for the peace of his own mind and 
for the tranquillity of the nation, notwithstanding the ac- 
knowledged abilities of the president, and his life-long devotion 
to American liberty, his opponents were soon busied in tra- 
ducing his character and impugning his measures, under the 
plea that he was an aristocrat at heart, and was too much 
attached, for a chief magistrate of the American republic, to 
the government of Great Britain and its hereditary honors. 2 
And it must be admitted that, on some points, the conduct of 
Mr. Adams was calculated to countenance and encourage such 

in a letter to Jefferson, dated March of state, see Tucker's Life of Jeffer- 
27, 1797, he says, " The consequences son, i. 467-472. 
of this election will be repeated strat- l Bradford, iii. 62. 
agems to weaken or destroy the 2 Writings of Hamilton, i. 489, 
confidence of the president and vice 490 ; Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 87, 
president in each other, from an assur- 88. That Mr. Adams repudiated the 
ance that, if it continues to the end of charge of being in favor of an heredi- 
the present administration, the vice tary aristocracy, appears from his let- 
president will be his successor; and, ter to Jefferson, July 13, 1813, in 
perhaps, from a dread of your politi- Works, x. 54. " I will forfeit my life, 
cal influence." Austin's Life of Gerry, if you can find one sentiment in my 
ii. 136. See also the Reply of Jef- Defence of the Constitutions, or the 
ferson, in ibid. ii. 136 et seq. How Discourses on Davila, which, by a fair 
prophetic these words were, time soon construction, can favor the idea of the 
proved. On the conduct of Jefferson, introduction of hereditary monarchy 
his interest in public affairs, and his or aristocracy in America. They were 
ultimate views, from the date of his all written to strengthen and support 
resignation of the office of secretary the Constitution of the United States." 


suspicions. He had never been averse to outward display — chap. 
to the use of titles and ceremonial distinctions ; and his notions ^^^ 
on " birth " and " blood " were not very agreeable to those who 1797. 
derived their lineage from a humble source. 1 Not that he 
can be said to have advocated in any of his writings the doc- 
trine of indelible hereditary excellence, — 

" Propped by ancestry, whose grace 
Chalks successors their way." 

Yet he seems to have favored the idea of a derivative excel- 
lence, which was transmissible, also, to a certain extent, though 
it would doubtless be unjust to impute to him the intention to 
detract from real worth, from whatever source it sprang. 

" From lowest place when virtuous things proceed, 
The place is dignified by the doer's deed. 
Where great additions swell, and virtue none, 
It is a dropsied honor. Good alone 
Is good, without a name. Vileness is so. 

1 Comp. Sparks's Washington, x. state in the Union, and from the his- 
20 ; Adams to Jefferson, July 9 and tory of every nation, civilized and 
13, Aug. — , and Sept. 2 and 15, 1813, savage, from all we know of the time 
in Works x. 49, 52, 58, 64, 69. of the creation of the world. . . . 
" Birth and wealth together have pre- We may call this sentiment a preju- 
vailed over virtue and talents in all dice, because we can give what names 
ages." " Has science, or morals, or we please to such things as we please ; 
philosophy, or criticism, or Christian- but, in my opinion, it is a part of the 
ity, advanced, or improved, or en- natural history of man, and politicians 
lightened mankind upon this subject, and philosophers may as well project 
and shown them that the idea of the to make the animal live without bones 
' wellborn' is a prejudice, a phantom, or blood, as society can pretend to 
a Point-no-Point, a Cape Flyaway, a free government without attention to 
dream. I say it is the ordinance of it." A curious " Essay on Hered- 
God Almighty, in the constitution of itary Titles and University Degrees, 
human nature, and wrought into the particularly Doctorates in Divinity, 
fabric of the universe. Philosophers by a New England Farmer," was 
and politicians may nibble and quib- printed in Boston, in 1798, " by Man- 
ble, but they will never get rid of it. ning & Loring, for Caleb Bingham, 
Their only resource is to control it. No. 44 Cornhill." The author of this 
. . . If you deny any one of these pamphlet wrote against such dis- 
positions, I will prove them to demon- tinctions, unless " conferred for actual 
stration, by examples drawn from your merit." 
own Virginia, and from every other 
VOL. III. 22 




The property by what it is should go, 
Not by the title." a 

To those, however, who did not perceive this distinction, 
or who wished to overlook it, Mr. Adams was the counterpart 
of a genuine republican — tainted with conceits and affected 
with a vanity which entirely disqualified him for the station 
he filled. 2 Hence the rancor of his opponents was increased 
by his success ; and though it might, perhaps, be unjust to 
them to question their sincerity, it can hardly be doubted that 
too much stress was laid upon trifles, and that, for party pur- 
poses, they were by no means reluctant to disparage his patri- 
otism and impeach his intentions. 3 It is not affirmed that 
Mr. Adams was perfect ; and it would be too much to assert 
that he was never mistaken. 4 If he was " often liable to 

1 All's Well That Ends Well, Act 
u. Sc. 3. < 

2 Hamilton, in his letter on John 
Adams, ed. 1800, 7, while he did not 
deny his integrity or patriotism, spoke 
of him as possessing " an imagination 
sublimated and eccentric — propi- 
tious neither to the regular display of 
sound judgment, nor to a steady per- 
severance in a systematic plan of con- 
duct ; " — "a vanity without bounds ; " 
— "a jealousy capable of discoloring 
every object ; " — " disgusting ego- 
tism and ungovernable indiscretion." 
" There are great and intrinsic defects 
in his character, which unfit him for 
the office of chief magistrate." See 
also Hamilton to Carroll, July 1, 
1800, in Works, vi. 446, and Bayard 
to Hamilton, Aug. 18, 1800, in ibid. 
457. A review of Hamilton's pam- 
phlet, by Caius, was published at 
Baltimore, entitled " A few Remarks 
on Mr. Hamilton's late Letter 
concerning the Public Conduct and 
Character of the President," which is 
worthy of perusal by those who wish 
to see both sides of a question, though 
the pamphlet itself is somewhat tart. 

3 "No man, perhaps," says Pick- 
ering, Review, 6, " has ever suffered 

more from disappointed ambition and 
mortified vanity than Mr. Adams; 
for in no man were these passions 
ever more highly sublimated." 

4 As a general thing, Mr. Adams, 
though free in the expression of his 
opinions, and indulging occasionally 
in a petulant humor, spoke of his 
bitterest opponents, in his calm and 
dispassionate moods, with commend- 
able moderation, and did ample justice 
to their talents and virtues. The only 
instance in which he seems to have 
departed from this rule — and that 
not without strong provocation — was 
in his treatment of Hamilton, whom, 
to the last, he could never forgive, 
and whom he held up to the world as 
a loathsome libertine. See the Cun- 
ningham Corresp., and comp. Hil- 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, ii. 384 et seq. 
When great men thus spar with each 
other, and forget the rules of Christian 
charity, we may lament then error, 
and wish it had been otherwise with 
them. But the sun shines notwith- 
standing the spots which may be ob- 
served on its surface. These eclipse 
but a portion of its brightness. It is 
still the great reservoir of light and 
of heat. And so is it with great men. 



paroxysms of anger," 1 were there not others who were guilty chap. 
of similar excesses ? And why should he be singled out as J^^L, 
exclusively an object of censure? Few, it is believed, can 1797. 
read his writings, and few can review the history of his life, 
without awarding him the praise of acting conscientiously, and 
of being as free from gross and palpable faults as is often 
allotted to the weakness of humanity. It would be invidious 
to compare him with his distinguished associates ; but, with- 
out disparaging them, it may be safely affirmed that, if he was 
not their superior, he was at least their equal. 2 

The difficulties with France, commenced under the adminis- 
tration of Washington, had not ceased when Adams took the 
presidential chair ; and, as the rulers of that nation were 
jealous of the " increasing activity of the commercial relations 1796. 

betwixt the United States and England," 3 and seemed desirous, u a nd* 

by their decrees against American commerce and their capture Mar. 2. 

They have their faults ; but their 
virtues overbalance, and commend 
them to our respect. 

1 Hamilton's Letter, ed. 1800, 38. 
" Most, if not all his ministers, and 
several distinguished members of the 
two Houses of Congress, have been 
humiliated by the effects of these gusts 
of passion." 

2 On the character of John Adams, 
see his Life, by his grandson, Charles 
Francis Adams ; Webster's Eulogy ; 
Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 293- 
296, &c 

3 That France, as a nation, from 
the outset of the revolution, sided with 
America, in the contest with England, 
more from a desire to cripple the 
commerce of Great Britain, than from 
any real regard to the liberties of the 
United States, and that, so soon as 
the independence of the United States 
was declared, she sought to divert the 
commerce of this country into a new 
channel, and secure its benefits to her- 
self, is evident from the writings of 
her eminent statesmen, and is, indeed, 

distinctly avowed in the " Mem. con- 
cerning the Commercial Relations of 
the U. States with England, by Citi- 
zen Talleyrand," republished at Bos- 
ton, in 1809. " If, after the peace," 
says he, p. 0, " which secured the in- 
dependence of America, France had 
been sensible of the full advantages 
of her position, she would have con- 
tinued, and would have sought to 
multiply, the relations which, during 
the war, had been so happily estab- 
lished betwixt her and her allies, and 
which had been broken off with Great 
Britain ; and thus, the ancient habits 
being almost forgotten, we might at 
least have contended with some ad- 
vantage against every thing which had 
a tendency to recall them." Speak- 
ing, also, of the causes which had 
tended to reconcile America to Eng- 
land, arising from sympathy of lan- 
guage, religion, customs, &c, he adds, 
p. 13, "They have taken such deep 
root, that it would, perhaps, require a 
French establishment in America to 
counteract their ascendency with any 



chap, of American vessels, 1 to force this country into a war with 
JJ^ England, it became necessary, in the opinion of the executive, 

1797. to remonstrate decisively, and prepare for the support of the 
rights of America. Hence measures were adopted for the 
protection of the shipping interest, by building vessels of war, 
fortifying the sea coasts, and augmenting the forces of the 
nation. 2 These measures were naturally attended with ex- 
pense ; and the opponents of the administration condemned 
them as extravagant. But the governor of Massachusetts 

1798. ° & 

June, seems to have concurred in them ; and, in an address 3 to the 

hopes of success. Undoubtedly 


1 Instructions to the Envoys, &c, 
Philad., 1798; Hildreth's U.'S., 2d 
series, ii. 50, 55. The latter decree, 
reviving that of May 9, 1793, was in- 
tended — so wrote Barlow — " to be 
little short of a declaration of war ; " 
and, in its practical application, it 
proved more fatal to the interests of 
the United States than might have 
been supposed from its terms. An- 
other decree, still more sweeping, was 
issued January 18, 1798, which for- 
bade the entrance into any French 
port of any vessel which, at any pre- 
vious part of her voyage, had touched 
at any English possession, and de- 
claring good prize all vessels having 
merchandise on board the produce of 
England or her colonies, whoever the 
owners of the merchandise might be. 

2 Speech of May 16, 1797, in Ad- 
ams's Works, ix. 116; Bradford's 
Hist. Fed. Gov't, 94, 95 ; Hildreth's 
U. S., 2d series, ii. 66, 88 ; Harper's 
Obs., in Works, i. 47-154. Tucker, 
Life of Jefferson, ii. 10, 11, judiciously 
observes on this point, " The blame 
of this state of things was thrown by 
many on the unwise councils of the 
government, which were attributed to 
its predilections for Great Britain over 
France. But they seem rather due 
to the conflict between those nations ; 
for, when we consider the bitter ani- 
mosity which was felt by both nations, 

it was scarcely practicable how the 
government could have steered clear 
of a war with either England or 
France, and the question only to be 
considered was, which would have 
most affected the honor, and most im- 
peded the prosperity, of the country. 
Had the government not firmly re- 
sisted and diligently counteracted the 
popular sentiment towards France, 
or had not many of the causes of col- 
lision been removed by the British 
treaty, a war with England would 
have been inevitable ; but after that 
treaty, no course of mere neutrality 
would probably have restored the con- 
fidence and friendly feelings of France. 
In short, encouraged by the known 
partiality of the American people, 
nothing would have satisfied France, 
apparently, but war against Great 
Britain; and her unfriendly senti- 
ments were yet further excited by the 
recall of Mr. Monroe, whose only of- 
fence was supposed to be his too kind 
feelings towards France." 

3 The last session of the legisla- 
ture in the Old State House was held 
this year; and January 11, 1798, the 
General Court took possession of the 
New State House, still standing near 
the Common, the erection of which 
was commenced in 1795. On this 
occasion, the governor and legislature, 
with the different officers of the gov- 
ernment, moved in procession to the 
representatives' room, where the Rev. 
Dr. Thacher, as chaplain of the Gen 


General Court, in the following year, lie recommended the chap. 
adoption of similar measures for the defence of the sea coasts J^^ 
of the state, which are quite extensive. Castle Island, with 1797. 
his sanction, was likewise ceded to the United States, to be 
repaired and extended, with a view to prevent the entrance 
of foreign vessels which might blockade the town. 1 

The appointment of commissioners to the court of France May 31. 
was another of the measures of President Adams, in which he 
was opposed by a portion of his cabinet, between whom and 
his excellency there was not an entire harmony of views ; and 
the difficulties which sprang from this source were lasting and 
violent. 2 Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, was one of these 
commissioners 3 — a gentleman distinguished for his intellec- 
tual ability, and for his attachment to the republican party. 
His associates were Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South jun. 21 
Carolina, the head of the federal party, who was still at 
Amsterdam, and John Marshall, of Virginia, afterwards the 
biographer of Washington, beloved for his private and public 
virtues, and admired for his unrivalled powers of argument. 
The reception of these agents, 4 however, was not such as 

eral Court, dedicated the building " to 14, 19, 23 ; Hamilton's Works, vi. 

the honor of God and the people's 195, 209, 214, 216, 218, 221, 242, 

good." For a description of the 247 ; Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't, 

building, and the ceremonies of dedi- 96 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, ii. 

cation, &c, see Fleet's Register for 94 et seq. " The preference of Mr. 

1799, 39, 40 ; Bradford, Hi. 56 ; Mem. Gerry to Mr. Cabot," wrote John 

of Gov. Sumner, in N. E. Gen. Hist. Adams, " was my first mortal offence 

Register for April, 1854, 120. against my sovereign heads of depart- 

1 Bradford, iii. 63-65. That Wash- ments, and their disciples in all the 
ington approved the measures of Mr. states. It never was, or has been, 
Adams, is evident from his Writings, forgiven me by those who call them- 
xi. 205, 262. " Believe me, sir, no selves, or are called by others, the 
one can more cordially approve the ' leading men ' among the federal- 
wise and prudent measures of your ists." 

administration. They ought to in- 3 Works of J. Adams, ix. 150; 

spire universal confidence; and will, Statesman's Manual, i. 130. Francis 

no doubt, combined with the state of Dana, of Massachusetts, was nomi- 

things. call from Congress such laws nated before Mr. Gerry; but, as he 

and means as wiii enable you to meet declined, Mr. Gerry was appointed in 

the full force and extent of this crisis." his place. 

2 Works of J. Adams, ix. 288. 4 Mr. Gerry, who embarked for 
Comp. Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. Europe August 9, and arrived at 



Sept. 4 


evinced a willingness on the part of the Directory, confirmed 
by the revolution of the eighteenth Fructidor, to treat with the 
United States on liberal terms. Indeed, the conduct of the 
French rulers, with Talleyrand as secretary of foreign affairs, 
justified the remark of an eminent patriot, that " resistance or 
unconditional submission was the only alternative left to a 
nation within reach of their arms." For the commissioners 
were received with coldness and disrespect ; they were not 
publicly accredited ; and persons were sent, in a private and 
informal manner, to ascertain their views, and learn upon 
what terms the United States were willing to purchase the 
friendship of France. 1 

In consequence of this treatment, which was condemned 
alike by federalists and republicans, two of the commissioners, 
Pinckney and Marshall, left the court. But Mr. Gerry re- 
mained, in the hope, it is said, of averting a rupture, and 
opening the way for a reconciliation. If in this he was un- 

Paris October 4, in a letter dated Oc- 
tober 9, in Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 
159, note, gives a rather ludicrous 
account of his reception at the court. 
" The morning after my arrival," says 
he, " I was waited upon by the mu- 
sicians of the executive, and, the suc- 
ceeding morning, by a deputation of 
poissardes, or fisherwomen, for pres- 
ents. Major Rutledge was kind enough 
to negotiate for me, by which means I 
avoided the kind caresses of the ladies, 
and an interview with the gentlemen. 
They expected fifteen or twenty guin- 
eas, which each of us, according to cus- 
tom, was obliged to give them. When 
the ladies get sight of a minister, as 
they did of my colleagues, they smoth- 
er him with their delicate kisses ! So 
much for the dignity of the corps di- 

1 What is our Situation, and What 
our Prospects, by an American ; Ham- 
ilton's Works, vi. 274-277 ; Tucker's 
Life of Jefferson, ii. 20, 28 ; Bradford, 
iii. 68 ; Harper's Speech of May 29, 

1797, in Works, i. 165-208. The 
French Directory had previously de- 
clared " qu'il ne reconnaitra, et ne re- 
cevra plus de ministre plenipotentiaire 
des Etats Unis, jusqu'apres le redresse- 
ment des griefs demande au gouveme- 
ment Americaine, et que la Republique 
Franc aise est en droit d'en entendre." 
Hamilton's Works, vi. 216. For a 
full account of this embassy, see the 
pamphlet published at Philadelphia, 
by an order of Congress of the 22d 
June, 1798, entitled "Instructions to 
the Envoys Extraordinary and Min- 
isters Plenipotentiary from the U. S. 
of America to the French Republic, 
their Letters of Credence and Full 
Powers, and the Despatches received 
from them relative to their Mission." 
For curious pamphlets on the French 
side of the question, see the Second 
Warning, published at Paris, in 1798, 
and Fauchet's Sketch of our Political 
Relations, printed at Paris, and re- 
printed at Philadelphia, in 1797. 



successful, the president, it would seem, did not entirely disap- chap. 
prove of his course, 1 though many of the citizens of Massachu- J^J^ 
setts, and the federalists generally, condemned his vanity in 1798. 
" thinking he could negotiate favorably for the country, when 
his colleagues were convinced that no just or reasonable condi- 
tions would be admitted." 2 

Previous to the return of Pinckney and Marshall, the gov- 
ernment of the United States, satisfied that its course must be 
prompt and decided, was busied in devising measures to bring 
things to a head ; and, after the despatches of the envoys had May 4. 
been presented to Congress, which served to open the eyes of 
many, and to silence for a time the favorers and apologists of 
France, 3 an act was passed authorizing the president to raise May 22. 

1 Comp. J. Adams to T. Pickering, 
Aug. 3, 1799, in Works, ix. 7. "He 
was nominated, and approved, and 
finally saved the peace of the nation. 
He alone discovered and furnished the 
evidence that X, Y, Z were employed 
by Talleyrand. And he alone brought 
home the direct, formal, official as- 
surances upon which the subsequent 
commission proceeded, and peace was 
made." Yet Pickering was allowed, 
at the ensuing session of Congress, to 
send in a report, — pruned, indeed, by 
Mr. Adams, — in which the conduct 
of Mr. Gerry was criticised severely. 

2 Comp. Hamilton's Works, vi. ; 
Bradford, iii. 70 ; Pickering's Review, 
77-100 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 
ii. 262, 263. That Mr. Gerry was 
" tenacious of his own peculiar projects, 
and estimated, with great self-com- 
placency, the plans which originated 
with himself," seems to be admitted 
by Mr. Austin, his biographer, to- 
gether with the "habitually suspicious 
tendency of his mind." Austin's Life 
of Gerry, ii. 307. That Mr. Gerry, 
however, did not voluntarily enter 
upon this separate negotiation, but for 
the reasons assigned in the text, is 
evident from his Letter to Talleyrand, 
in Austin, ii. 209. Washington had 
a less favorable opinion of Mr. Gerry's 

course than President Adams, and 
wrote to Pickering, October 18, 1798, 
Writings, xi. 325, "With respect to 
Mr. Gerry, his own character and the 
public satisfaction require better evi- 
dence than his letter to the minister 
of foreign relations to prove the 
propriety of his conduct during his en- 
voy ship." Com]). Pickering's Review, 
110—143, and Hamilton's Works, vi. 
322. The treatment of Mr. Gerry's 
family during his absence, as detailed 
in Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 266, 267, 
reflects little credit upon the parties 
concerned, and speaks little in favor 
of the cause they had espoused. To 
insult a lady, by insinuating doubts of 
her husband's fidelity, by erecting a 
guillotine before her window, on which 
was the effigy of a headless man, 
smeared with blood, and by savage 
yells during the night, to disturb her 
repose, were unmanly and disgraceful 
acts, for which no apology should be 
offered, and which every good citizen 
must concur in condemning. 

3 "The influence," says Tucker, 
Life of Jefferson, ii. 33, " which these 
despatches had on public sentiment 
is well recollected. Those who had 
been previously alienated from the 
French nation, and were prepared to 
resist her lawless course on the ocean, 


chap, a provisional army of twenty thousand men, the command of 

J^^ which was intrusted to Washington. Authority was also 

1798. given to the navy of the United States to seize vessels under 

May 28. ^ ie ^ a o °f France which had committed encroachments on 

Jun. 13. American commerce ; commercial intercourse between the two 

countries was suspended ; the treaties concluded with France 

July 7. were declared no longer binding on the United States: letters 

July 9. of marque and reprisal were empowered to be issued ; and 

other acts were passed, for increasing the navy, for direct and 

indirect taxation, and for appropriating the revenue among 

the officers of government. Alien and sedition laws were 

likewise passed. 1 

The adoption of these measures was censured by the oppo- 
nents of the administration with all the virulence which 
passions inflamed beyond reasonable bounds have ever pro- 
duced ; and the foundation was laid of personal piques and 
bitter resentments, which have not ceased with the passage of 
years. Whoever, indeed, speaks freely of the transactions of 
those days — of the intrigues of great men and the plots of 
partisans — is sure to touch some sensitive point, and to revive 
animosities which will not soon be forgotten. There is no 
alternative, however, for the impartial historian, but to move 

loudly triumphed at this undisguised Hamilton's Works, vi. 309 et seq. ; 
manifestation of the baseness and cu- Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 28-33 ; 
pidity of her rulers, which at once Bradford, hi. 67, and Hist, Fed. Gov't, 
justified their previous course, and 97-102 ; Austin's Life of Gerry, iii. 
was likely to strengthen their cause 271, 272; Hilclreth's U. S., 2d series, 
with the people. All the timid and ii. 195 et seq.; Harper's Letter of 
wavering of the other party, the neu- July 23, 1798, in Works, i. 268-287. 
ter between both parties, and a few The frigate Constitution was built in 
elevated minds, who forgot party dis- Boston at this time, which was con- 
tinctions in their sensibility to the sidered one of the best ships belong- 
national honor, swelled the list, and ing to the United States. The other 
thus gave to the administration and two frigates voted by Congress, were 
anti-Gallican party a decisive majority the United States and the Constella- 
of the people." tion. Besides these, it appears from 
1 Works of J. Adams, ix. 159, the official reports, that not less than 
160; Sparks's Washington, xi. 242 365 private armed vessels were com- 
et seq., and App. Nos. 11 and 12; missioned, mounting 2733 guns, and 
Marshall's Washington, v. 735-746 ; manned by 6874 seamen. 



straight forward in the discharge of his duty, dealing as fairly chap 



with the one side as with the other. It would not be difficult, 
did the disposition exist, to find fault with both sides ; nor 
would it be difficult to substantiate, by copious quotations 
from newspaper pasquils, anoDymous notes, and fatherless 
pamphlets, charges of misconduct against even the best char- 
acters. But it is unwise to judge men by their splenetic 
humors, or by the foibles and passions which often betray 
them. Moods of misanthropy are common to all ; and impulse 
prompts to many a hasty censure and reproof, which is after- 
wards regretted, if it is not retracted. 1 

The reelection of Mr. Sumner as governor of Massachusetts 
was warmly opposed in this and the following year, in conse- 
quence of his sympathy with President Adams ; but he was 
chosen in the latter year by a very large majority, receiving A P ril 1 * 
at least three fourths of the whole number of votes cast. 2 To 
the grief of his friends, he died before taking the oath of June 7. 


1 The state of feeling in Massachu- 
setts, and the views of the people 
relative to Mr. Adams's administra- 
tion, may be gathered from the ad- 
dresses approving his course, from the 
legislature of the state, the grand 
jury of the county of Plymouth, the 
students of Harvard College, the citi- 
zens of Boston, and from a number 
of other towns. The replies to these 
addresses are given in the Works of 
John Adams, ix. 189 et seq. Comp. 
also Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, ii. 
207 et seq. For the opinion of Ham- 
ilton on the situation of the country, 
and the views of those who Avere " de- 
termined to go every length with 
France," see his Works, vi. 289, 
Letter to Washington, May 19, 1798, 
and reply of Washington, in ibid. 
290. Tucker, however, Life of Jeffer- 
son, ii. 24, judiciously observes, that 
" this imputation of sacrificing the 
interests of the United States to those 
of a foreign nation, was indeed habit- 
ually made by both parties against 

their opponents, but, as to the great 
body of the people, and even of the 
politicians, it was utterly unfounded. 
Yet, as each one was persuaded that 
the policy of our government, and 
perhaps its character, was likely to be 
affected according as the power of 
these nations in Europe and their in- 
fluence here prevailed, each was led 
to take an interest in French or Eng- 
lish affairs, on account of the interest 
they took in then* country's welfare ; 
and it is not wonderful that, with 
many, objects first pursued on other 
accounts should be afterwards pur- 
sued for their own; and that, in a 
few instances, the secondary consider- 
ation became the first in regard and 

2 The whole vote was 33,000, of 
which Mr. Sumner received 25,000. 
One hundred and eighty towns gave 
him a unanimous vote. Bradford, 
iii. 65 ; Mem. of Gov. S., in N. E. 
Gen. Hist. Reg. for April, 1854, 123. 




chap, office ; and Moses Gill, the lieutenant governor, occupied the 
J^^_ chair for the rest of the year. 1 The successor of Mr. Gill was 
Caleb Strong, a gentleman of "uncommon talents, of great 
political knowledge and experience, and of unblemished mor- 
als." 2 His competitor, Mr. Gerry, was the candidate of the 
republican party ; and it is proof of the confidence of the 
people in his integrity that the vote for him was large, though 
insufficient to secure his election. 3 The two parties, indeed, 
— the federalists and republicans, — were quite nearly bal- 
anced in Massachusetts at this time ; and such was the state 
of public feeling, that " ministers and judges entered the arena 
of political strife," and " the temples of devotion and justice 
became altars of desecration." 4 It is a sad illustration of 
the weakness of humanity to find a meeting of free citizens, 
preparatory to the election of national representatives, de- 

1 Moses Gill, the lieutenant gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts, had held this 
office for several years, and was " es- 
teemed as an ardent patriot, and a 
sincere friend to the liberties of the 
people." He was a gentleman of re- 
spectable talents, and discharged the 
duties of his office with commendable 
diligence. His administration was too 
short, however, to be particularly 
distinguished, nor is his name usually 
given in the list of the governors of 
the state, though it properly belongs 
there, as he served for a full year. 
The death of Washington, which oc- 
curred December 14, 1799, was a 
severe stroke to the nation, and to the 
federal party especially, with which 
he had been connected; and the 
downfall of this party and the triumph 
of its opponents may be dated from 
this period. Public services were 
held in all the states on the occasion 
of the funeral of Washington, and 
numerous eulogies were delivered and 

2 Biog. of Gov. Strong, ed. 1820 j 
Boston Centinel for March 11, 1812; 
Bradford, iii. 77. Mr. Strong was 

born at Northampton, in 1744, and 
entered early into public life, being a 
member of the Committee of Corre- 
spondence of Northampton, in 1775, 
and of the Massachusetts legislature 
in 1776, with the intrepid Hawley. 
He was a member of the Constitu- 
tional Convention of 1780, and was 
chosen councillor in the same year, 
and senator in 1781. He was one 
of the five delegates to the Federal 
Convention, in 1787, and a member 
of the Massachusetts Convention of 
1788. From 1789 to 1797, he was 
also a senator in the Congress of the 
United States, after which he retired 
to private life, until chosen to the 
chief magistracy of Massachusetts in 
1800. He was now, therefore, in the 
56th year of his age ; and his abilities 
and experience abundantly qualified 
him for the responsible station to 
which he was called, and which he 
filled with so much credit to himself 
and the state. 

3 Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 302. 

4 Austin's Life of Geny, ii. 296, 



scribed as " a convention of Parisian cutthroats, assembled in chap. 
solemn divan for the purpose of selecting some devotee of J^^ 
republicanized France as a candidate for the democratic 1798. 
suffrages in this district for federal representation at the ap- 
proaching election." 1 But such excesses were not uncommon ; 
and all who participated actively in political affairs were 
alike subjected to sneers and reproaches. 

The fourth presidential canvass, in the mean time, was 1800. 
approaching ; and, as dissatisfaction with the administration 
of Mr. Adams had been increased by his attempt to negotiate F ^25. 
anew with France, — which was disapproved by a majority of 
the cabinet, and by the great body of the federalists in both 
Houses, 2 — and by his dismissal of Pickering and M'Henry, 
his secretaries of state and war, which provoked their enmity 
against him, as well as by the defensive measures which were 
still pursued, and the enforcement of the obnoxious alien and 
sedition laws, 3 the opposition became violent ; his conduct was 
condemned as " a heterogeneous compound of right and wrong, 

1 Boston Centinel for Oct. 17, 1798 5 
Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 296, note. 

2 Desultory Reflections on the New 
Political Aspects, &c, N. Y., 1800 ; 
Works of J. Adams, ix. 11, 18, 19, 24 
et seq., 131, note, 162, 241 et seq. ; 
Hamilton's Works, vi. 471, and Let- 
ter on J. Adams, 21; Gibbs's Fed. 
Admin, ii. 243 et seq. ; Jay's Jay, ii. 
296 ; Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 
58 ; Statesman's Manual, i. 134 ; Hil- 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, ii. ISO et seq. ; 
Harper's Speech of March 2, 1798, in 
Works, i. 209-267. In this instance, 
seyeral of the cabinet were opposed to 
sending new commissioners to France, 
as " an act of humiliation not to be 
submitted to except under the pres- 
sure of an extreme necessity, which 
did not exist." 

3 Works of J. Adams, ix. 14, note, 
291 : the Cunningham Correspond. ; 
Hamilton's Letter, 2d ed. 37 et seq. ; 
Pendleton's Address, Boston, 1799 ; 
Hamilton's Works, vi. 307, 398; Pick- 

ering's Review, 44-77 ; Proceedings 
of the Va. Assembly, Philad. 1800 ; 
Barlow's Letters; Bradford, iii. 80. 
For Washington's opinion of the 
alien and sedition laws, see Sparks's 
Washington, xi. 345, 387 ; and for 
Hamilton's, see his Works, vi. 388, 
389. "The alien law," says Carey, 
Olive Branch, 83, " I believe, was never 
carried into operation. It was held 
in terrorem over several active and 
influential foreigners, who, in the lan- 
guage of the day, were rank Jacobins, 
and, of course, enemies of God and 
man. But the case was far different 
with the sedition law. Several individ- 
uals could bear testimony, from ex- 
perience, to the severity with which 
its sanctions were enforced." Pick- 
ering, Review, 11, asserts that one 
of the objects of the sedition law was 
"to protect him [Mr. Adams] from 
the torrents of calumny pouring upon 
him from all the streams of dernoo 



chap, of wisdom and error ; " and the result of the canvass, after a 
32L great deal of manoeuvring and not a little tergiversation, was 
1801. the election of Mr. Jefferson by a vote of the House. 1 The 
vote of Massachusetts was given for Mr. Adams ; 2 but, as the 
1800. electors were chosen by the legislature, at a special session, it 
is probable that, had the former mode of voting in districts 
been adopted, several votes would have been given for Mr. 
June J e ff erson - 3 Yet the governor, in his annual address, expressed 
himself in a conciliatory manner towards the new adminis- 
tration, although the result had not " corresponded with the 
wishes of many citizens of this commonwealth." " They will 
reflect," he observed, " that, in republics, the opinion of the 
majority must prevail, and that obedience to the laws and 
respect for the constitutional authorities are essential to the 
character of a good citizen." 4 i 

Nor were these prudent counsels without their effect : for 

1 For these proceedings, see Ham- 
ilton's Works, vi. 416 et seq. ; the 
Voter's Text Book, 7 ; Tucker's Life 
of Jefferson, ii. 74-82 ; Bradford's 
Hist. Fed. Gov't. 117; Statesman's 
Manual, i. 219; Hildreth's U. S., 2d 
series, ii. 402 et seq. That Jefferson 
took a deep interest in the result of 
this election, and did all in his power 
to insure the defeat of Mr. Adams, is 
evident from his own writings, and 
from the admission of his biographer ; 
and the points upon which he princi- 
pally relied were, "that when these 
counteractions of the alien and sedition 
laws and the new taxes should be 
removed, the inherent unpopularity 
of these acts would bring the adminis- 
tration into discredit with the people, 
and give their rivals the ascendency ; 
for the angry passions of party zealots, 
deprived of all other objects, would 
concentre on the two obnoxious laws 
and other measures of the federalists, 
against which they already had evi- 
dence of a strong popular leaning." 
Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 59. 

2 The activity of the opponents of 

Mr. Adams in Massachusetts is graph- 
ically portrayed by Fisher Ames, in 
his Laocoon, No. 1, Works, 101. 
" The Jacobins have at last made 
their own discipline perfect. They are 
trained, officered, regimented, and 
formed to subordination in a manner 
that our militia has never yet equalled. 
Emissaries are sent to every class of 
men, and even to every individual man 
that can be gained. Every threshing 
floor, every husking, every party at 
work on a house-frame, or raising a 
building, the very funerals are in- 
fested with brawlers or whisperers 
against government. In one of our 
towns, it is a fact, that the vote would 
have been unanimous for our worthy 
chief magistrate; but a turbulent 
man, who kept two great dogs, but 
could not keep his estate, had influ- 
ence enough to gain five or six votes 
for the anti-candidate. The only com- 
plaint he had to urge against the gov- 
ernor Avas, that he had signed the ac* 
for the dog tax." 

3 Bradford, iii. 81. 

4 Bradford, iii. 82. 


the people of Massachusetts, notwithstanding the reflections chap. 
which have been cast upon them, were as loyal to the consti- J^^ 
tution as the citizens of the other states. They might differ isoi. 
in opinion upon the character of political measures, and ex- 
press their dissent with considerable warmth ; but when it is 
affirmed that there was ever a serious intention on their part 
to resist the legitimate action of the government, the charge 
can be easily and successfully disproved. In no part of the 
country have the people, as a whole, behaved with more pru- 
dence ; and if individual exceptions can be found, the same 
may be said of every other state. There is always a class 
of ambitious men, anxious for their own aggrandizement ; and 
if these do not succeed in securing the notoriety they covet, 
they are loud in their denunciations of all who oppose them. 

At the succeeding presidential election, Mr. Jefferson was 1804. 
rechosen ; and this time, to the surprise of almost every one, 
the vote of Massachusetts was given in his favor. 1 Mr. Strong 
was still governor of the state, and held his office until 1807, 
when he w%s succeeded by James Sullivan, the attorney gen- 1807. 
eral, and a brother of the late General Sullivan, of New 
Hampshire. 2 Party spirit, in the mean time, was increasing 

1 Bradford, iii. 87, 88 ; • BUdreth's 1787, he was a member of the Exec- 
U. S., 2d series, ii. 531. utive Council and judge of probate 

2 Bradford, iii. 95. Mr. Sullivan, for the county of Suffolk; and, in 
who was born at Berwick, Me., April 1790, he was appointed attorney gen- 
22, 1744, and who studied law under eral, in which office he continued un- 
his brother, General Sullivan, soon til June, 1807, when he entered upon 
rose to celebrity, and was appointed his duties as governor of Massachu- 
king's attorney for the county in which setts. He was often a representative 
he resided. He was a member of the from Boston to the General Court ; 
Provincial Congress in 1775; early in was appointed agent by Washington 
1776 he was appointed a judge of the for settling the boundaries between 
Superior Court, and was a member of the United States and the British 
the convention for framing the consti- provinces ; was long a member of the 
tution of Massachusetts, in 1779 and American Academy of Arts and Sci- 
1780. In 1782, he resigned his ences, and of the Humane Society, 
judgeship, and resumed his practice at and president of the Massachusetts 
the bar, and, in 1783, was appointed Historical Society, and of the Massa- 
a delegate to Congress. In 1784, he chusetts Congregational Charitable 
*vas one of the commissioners for set- Society. Less of a party politician 
tiing the land controversy between than many of his supporters wished 
Massachusetts and New York ; in or expected, he was disposed to act, 


chap, in violence ; and Mr. Jefferson, in particular, while he had 
^^^ many friends, who almost idolized him, had also his opponents, 
I807. who concurred in as heartily condemning his conduct as his 
adherents had formerly in condemning Mr. Adams. His tal- 
ents at intrigue, it was said, might have " excited the envy of 
a Machiavel. 77 He " had a language confidential, as well as 
a language official," which were directly at variance. His 
politics were " tinctured with fanaticism," and his views were 
theoretical.' 7 And though he " possessed in a remarkable 
degree the power of influencing others, and using them as 
tools for the accomplishment of his designs/ 7 he did so by 
" stooping to their prejudices, 77 and " ministering to their van- 
ity. 77 1 Yet it would be unjust to him to denounce him as a 
demagogue, or to assert, as did many, that he was " governed 
by the basest motives. 77 True, between him and John Adams 
the difference in character was strikingly marked. Jefferson 
was cautious, plausible, and penetrating. Adams was impul- 
sive, and followed his own instincts. As a politician, the 
former was unquestionably the superior. As a man* the latter 
was entitled to the precedence. In intellectual ability, they 
were more nearly equal ; but Jefferson, from his tact, was 

under all circumstances, as governor so many estimable traits of character, 

of the state, with candor and impar- An original portrait of Governor Sul- 

tiality ; and, possessing a vigorous in- livan, by Stuart, is in the possession 

tellect and an indefatigable industry, of his son, Hon. Richard Sullivan, of 

amid the multiplicity of his profes- Boston; and an admirable copy of 

sional avocations he found time to the same, by Otis, is in the possession 

prepare for publication many histori- of his grandson, T. C. Amory, Jim., 

cal, political, and technical works, sev- Esq., also of Boston, who has likewise 

eral of which are of permanent value, in his possession a large collection of 

He was also a frequent contributor private documents illustrative of the 

to the public journals; and his various career of Governor Sullivan as a ju- 

articles upon interesting points of rist and statesman, 
political controversy throw important ! See the pamphlet entitled " The 

light upon the contemporary annals. Anti-GaFiican, or the Lover of his 

His death was lamented as a public own Country, by a Citizen of New 

calamity ; and citizens of all parties England : Philadelphia, published by 

attended his funeral, to testify their William Cobbett, opposite Chrr-t 

respect for one whose services, ex- Church, Dec, 1797." Comp. also 

tending over a period of forty years, Pickering's Review, 18. 
had been so varied, and who possessed 


better adapted to govern a nation. For John Adams was chap. 
inclined to rely upon his own judgment, while Jefferson de- TOI ' 
ferred, seemingly, to the judgment of his friends. 1 1807. 

Yet let it be said, to the credit of Jefferson, that, though as 
a politician he may have been unscrupulous, and as a man not 
perfect, he was a sincere friend to his country and to its inter- 
ests as he understood them ; nor is there reason to doubt the 
soundness of his patriotism, even if it was tinctured with a 
large share of ambition. 2 He was the first, indeed, to adopt 
the maxim that " to the victors belong the spoils ; " 3 and, in 
his removals from office, the competency of the incumbent was 
often overlooked. Under all the circumstances, however, he 
could hardly be expected to have taken a different course. A 
new party had come into power, and its friends must be pro- 
vided for. Federalists had hitherto governed the nation ; and 
should the reins be left in their hands, when there was a large 
number of republicans ready to hold them ? If his doctrine 
was false, has it since been repudiated ? Has any more recent 

1 On the character of Jefferson, see Review, 17, and Tucker's Life of Jef- 
Tucker's Life of Jefferson, passim ; ferson, ii. 209. 

Webster's and Wirt's Eulogies on 3 " I have given," wrote Jefferson, 

Adams and Jefferson ; Letters of " and will give, under existing circum- 

Tacitus, Philadelphia, 1802 ; Letter stances, only to republicans. But I 

to a Federalist, &c, Feb., 1805 ; Hil- believe, with others, that deprivations 

dreth's U. S., 2d series, i. 291-293, of office, if made on grounds of po- 

297-300, 455-457. " He was a re- litical principles alone, would revolt 

publican and a philanthropist," says our new converts, and give a body to 

Mr. Wirt, " from the earliest dawn leaders who now stand alone. Some, 

of his character. He loved his own I know, must be made. They must 

country with a passion no less intense, be as few as possible, done gradually, 

deep, and holy than that of his great and bottomed on some malversation 

compatriot, [Adams ;] and with tins or inherent disqualification. Where 

love he combined an expanded phi- we shall draw the line between re- 

lanthropy which encircled the globe." taining all and none is not yet settled, 

2 " I will not take leave of Mr. and will not be till we get our admin- 
Jefferson in this place," says John Ad- istration together ; and, perhaps, even 
ams, " without declaring my opinion, then, we shall proceed d tatons, bal- 
that the accusations against him of ancing our measures according to 
blind devotion to France, of hostility the impression we perceive them to 
to England, of hatred to commerce, make." Comp. on tins subject Tuck- 
and duplicity in his late negotiations er's Life of Jefferson, ii. 91-94, 102 ; 
with the belligerent powers, are with- Statesman's Manual, i. 220, 221, 226. 


out foundation. Comp. Pickering's 


chap, president taken a different stand ? And was ever a party, in 
^^_ the hour of triumph, known to prefer its opponents to its 
1807. friends? 

More serious matters, however, soon engaged the attention 
of the people of Massachusetts. The president and his cabi- 
net had long been suspected, and even accused, of a leaning 
towards France, and of a wish to promote the views of that 
nation, and to provoke Great Britain. Spoliations on com- 
merce, in which the Eastern States were largely interested, 
had been frequently made by French, as well as by English, 
vessels ; but, when the injustice of this treatment was remon- 
strated against, and indemnity was urged, the government of 
France attempted to justify its course by alleging that Eng- 
land was the first aggressor, and had been equally, if not more, 
unjust in its conduct towards the United States. 1 

At this critical juncture, while the passions of all classes 

were highly inflamed, about a month after the passage of the English orders in council, and a few days subsequent to the 

Dec. 17. issue of Bonaparte's Milan decree, an embargo was laid by the 

Dec. 22. president, without period or limitation. This feature of the 

bill, which was contrary to all precedents, was the particular 

ground of alarm to Massachusetts ; and it was feared there 

would be great difficulty in obtaining a vote of Congress for 

a repeal. 2 Many of the citizens of this state were vehement 

1 Bradford, iii. 94. Bonaparte's Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, ii. 32-37. 
Berlin decree was issued November The previous proclamation of the 
21, 1806, declaring the British Islands English government, for a blockade 
in a state of blockade, and prohibiting of the coast from the Elbe to Brest, 
all commerce and intercourse with was issued May 16, 1806 ; and, at a 
them ; and the effects of this decree still earlier date, or in the winter of 
were felt in America, as well as in 1805-6, in consequence of British ag- 
Europe. Carey's Olive Branch, 1 15 ; gressions, memorials from Boston, 
Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, ii. 647, Salem, Newburyport, and other towns 
648. in Massachusetts, and from New York, 

2 Bradford, iii. 97, and Hist. Fed. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other 
Gov't. 157 ; Statesman's Manual, i. cities, were forwarded to Congress, 
253-256; Carey's Olive Branch, 115 protesting against these aggressions, 
-120 ; Pickering's Heview, 33, 34 ; and demanding redress. Am. State 
Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 248-250 j Papers, 1801-1806, and 1806-1808 j 



in their denunciations ; and, though the friends of the admin- chap. 
istration spoke warmly of the measure, and defended it with ^^J^ 
enthusiasm, those who considered the president as unfriendly 1807. 
to commerce were confirmed in their opinions of his charac- 
ter, and condemned him as a " traitor." 1 Nor can it be doubt- 
ed that the business of Massachusetts was seriously checked. 
Agriculture was discouraged, and the fisheries were abandoned. 
A large number of vessels were thrown out of employ, and 
hauled up and dismantled. Ship building was suspended ; 
and the gloomiest forebodings pervaded the community. 2 
That John Quincy Adams, one of the senators from Massa- 
chusetts, should have voted for this measure, and that John 
Adams, his father, should have given it his sanction, occasioned 
no little surprise to many. 3 Mr. Pickering, the other senator 

Carey's Olive Branch, 88, 89, 115. 
The orders in council of November 
11, 1807, are said to have reached the 
United States December 18, four days 
before the embargo was laid. J. Q. 
Adams to H. G. Otis, p. 9. The em- 
bargo laws, with accompanying docu- 
ments, were published at Boston, in 
1809, in a pamphlet of 174 pages, by 
Cushing and Belcher. On the orders 
in council, see Niles's Register, i. 155 
-163, 177-189, 194-198. 

1 " There is," says Carey, Olive 
Branch, 130, " no measure of the gen- 
eral government, from its first organ- 
ization to the present hour, more 
strongly marked with wisdom, with 
foresight, and with attention to duty, 
than this recommendation. There is, 
nevertheless, no measure that has 
generated more factions or senseless 
clamor, more envenomed prejudice, 
more unblushing misrepresentation." 
On the embargo laws, comp. An Ad- 
dress to the People of New England, 
by Algernon Sidney, [Gideon Gran- 
ger,] Washington, 1808 ; An Address 
to the Congress of the United States 
on the Utility and Justice of Restric- 
tions upon Foreign Commerce, Phil- 
adelphia, 1809 ; Blake's Examination 

vol. in. 23 

of the Constitutionality of the Em- 
bargo Laws, Worcester, 1808 ; Bar- 
ing's Inquiry on the Orders in Coun- 
cil, 2d Am. ed., N. Y., 1808. 

2 Address to the Congress of the 
U. S., 15, Philad. 1809 ; Report of 
Com. of Mass. Leg. 1809 ; Dallas on 
the Embargo, Philad. 1809; Pick- 
ering to Sullivan, 5 ; Tucker's Life of 
Jefferson, ii. 265, 266. The registered 
tonnage of the United States in 1807, 
employed in the foreign trade, was 
848,306 tons ; and of this Massachu- 
setts alone owned 310,309 tons, or 
more than one third. Pickering's 
Review, 34. Is it surprising in this 
view, that the citizens of Massachu- 
setts should have complained of the 
impolicy of the embargo ? 

3 Pickering's Review, 29-44 ; Brad-* 
ford, iii. 98; Hildreth's U. S., 2d 
series, iii. 37, 78. " The president," 
said Mr. Adams, " has recommended 
this measure on Ins high responsibil- 
ity. I would not consider. I would 
not deliberate. I would act. Doubt- 
less, the president possesses such fur- 
ther information as will justify the 
measure." Pickering to Sullivan, 11, 
and Review, 34. Comp. also the In- 
admissible Principles of the King of 



chap, from Massachusetts, opposed the act as improper and impolitic, 
J^^ and addressed a letter to Governor Sullivan, intended also for 
1807. the legislature and the people, embodying his views upon the 
subject. 1 To this Mr. John Quincy Adams replied, in a letter 
to Mr. Otis, in favor of the embargo. 2 But the public were 
dissatisfied with his reasoning, and withdrew their confidence 
from the friends of the act. 3 

Let it not be supposed, however, that the embargo was 
entirely unwarranted. For some time, the posture of affairs 
with England had been such as to threaten a rupture ; and, to 
prevent this evil, negotiations had been pending with the Eng- 
lish government upon the subject of neutral rights, which had 
been violated by the seizure of American vessels trading to 
any country with which Great Britain was at war, and by 
forcibly impressing American seamen under the pretence that 
they were British subjects. 4 The envoys to whom this nego- 

England's Proclamation of Oct. 16, 
1807, by the late President Adams, 
Boston, 1809. 

1 Corresp. between Pickering and 
Sullivan, 1808 ; Pickering's Review, 
35; Bradford, iii. 99; Carey's Olive 
Branch, 132 ; Hildreth's IL S., 2d 
series, iii. 78. Mr. Pickering was 
hanged in effigy in the Northern Lib- 
erties of Philadelphia, on a gallows 
fifty feet high, for opposing the em- 
bargo. Pickering's Review, 5. 

* John Q. Adams to H. G. Otis ; 
Bradford, iii. 99, note ; Hildreth's U. 
S., 2d series, iii. 77. 

3 It was asserted, by some, that the 
embargo was the result of a combi- 
nation between the Southern and 
Western States, to ruin the Eastern ; 
but of this there is no adequate proof. 
Comp. Carey's Olive Branch, 131. 

4 War in Disguise ; Answer to War 
in Disguise, N. York, 1806; Peace or 
War, N. York, 1807 ; Cases and Que- 
ries, N. York, 1809 ; Exam, of the 
British Doctrine on Neutral Trade, 
&c. ; Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 
146: Carey's Olive Branch, 106. "It 

soon appeared from the despatches 
received from Messrs. Monroe and 
Pinckney, after they had entered upon 
the negotiation, that there was little 
probability of making a satisfactory 
adjustment of the great questions of 
impressment, indemnity for spolia- 
tions, or the West India trade. An- 
ticipating a change of ministry after 
Mr. Fox's death, and with his hopes 
of a successful negotiation greatly 
moderated, the president thought it 
prudent to give more explicit instruc- 
tions to the American envoys. They 
were, therefore, informed of his views 
on the subjects of impressments, neu- 
tral commerce, blockades, East and 
West India trade, and indemnifica- 
tion ; and they were instructed not to 
enter into any treaty which did not 
provide some security against the 
impressment of American seamen." 
Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 223, 
224. The copy of t*he treaty was 
received from Mr. Erskine, who had 
been appointed under the Grenville 
administration to succeed, or rather to 
take the place of, Mr. Merry, as min- 


tiation was intrusted succeeded in effecting a treaty, signed by chap. 
the American and British ministers, which was forwarded to J^L 
the president ; but, from its alleged defects, he declined submit- 1806. 
ting it to the Senate. It contained no agreement on the part 18 q 7# * 
of the British relinquishing in full their right of taking their Jan " L 
seamen wherever they might find them ; and an article was 
appended to it, after it had been signed, by which the English 
government might require of the United States, in case of an 
invasion of England by the French, which was threatened, a 
variation in the stipulations of the treaty in favor of England. 1 
The policy of the president in thus assuming, in connection 
with Madison, to reject so important a measure without con- 
sulting the Senate, as it involved an unusual exertion of 
authority, became a subject at once of newspaper attack and 
defence ; and though he pleaded in his vindication his " sensi- 
bility to the sovereignty of the nation," 2 there were not want- 
ing those who viewed his conduct in a less favorable light, and 
who regarded him as playing into the hands of the French. 
For, certainly, as Monroe very sensibly replied, as the question 
of impressment had been placed on the best temporary basis 
that the conflicting prejudices of the two nations would admit, 

ister from Great Britain to the United criminals, equalization of duties, and 

States, and who reached Washington regulation of privateers, the two in- 

in the preceding November. struments were substantially the same. 

1 Real Causes of the Failure of the The new features were, that Great 

Negotiation, &c. ; Tucker's Life of Britain consented that the United 

Jefferson, ii. 224 ; Bradford's Hist. States should have a circuitous trade 

Fed. Gov't. 146 ; Statesman's Manu- with the colonies of her enemies, dur- 

al, i. 251; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, ing existing hostilities; the limit of 

ii. 653-656. Pinckney and Monroe maritime jurisdiction was extended to 

were the agents of the United States ; five miles from the coast ; provision 

and Lords Auckland and Howick, was made in favor of shipwrecked 

afterwards Earl Grey, were the agents persons ; advantages in navigation or 

of England. This treaty, which con- trade granted by either party to any 

sisted of twenty-six articles, was con- nation were to extend to the other ; 

eluded for the term of ten years. It and all laws passed and measures 

confirmed the permanent and unex- taken against the African slave trade 

pired articles in the treaty of 1794, and were to be communicated to the other, 
on the subjects of the East India trade, 2 Comp. Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 

rights of neutrals and belligerents, ap- iii. 27. 
pointment of consuls, surrender of 


chap, nothing could justify the refusal to ratify but a fixed determi- 
s 3^^ nation, in case the matter was not otherwise arranged, to press 
1807. its decision by an appeal to arms. 1 Hatred of England, it was 
said, was all that held his party together. Take away this, 
and it would speedily dissolve. But these censures, it would 
seem, were pushed too far and stated too strongly. If his 
own statements may be credited, it is quite certain that Jeffer- 
son was not opposed to a peace with England ; nor is it 
necessary to question his honesty to account for his conduct 
on this occasion. 2 Without doubt, it would have been the 
most prudent course to have submitted the treaty to the Sen- 
ate ; but, if he was convinced in his own mind that it was 
injurious and dishonorable, he had a right to withhold it. Its 
adoption might have averted the consequences which followed ; 
but those consequences, as they were not sought by, so neither 
could they justly be charged to, him. 3 

Yet the confidence of the friends of the president remained 
unshaken ; and, even in New England, his partisans increased. 
But an outrage soon followed which tended for a season to 
check their zeal, and open their eyes to a sense of their dan- 
gers. This was the attack upon the Chesapeake, near the 
jun.23. capes of Virginia, by the English ship Leopard. 4 An indig- 

1 Comp. Tucker's Life of Jefferson, land. "No two countries upon earth," 
ii. 226, 227; Hildreth's U. S., 2d se- said he, "have so many points of 
ries, ii. 663 ; iii. 27, 64. Monroe, it common interest and friendship ; and 
is said, was not " altogether free from their rulers must be great bunglers, 
suspicion that the treaty with Great indeed, if, with such dispositions, they 
Britain, so unceremoniously rejected break them asunder. The only rivalry 
without being even submitted to the that can ever arise is on the ocean. 
Senate, had fallen a victim to appre- We ask for peace and justice from all 
hensions lest the eclat of so successful nations ; and we will remain strictly 
a negotiation, backed, perhaps, by neutral in fact, though leaning in be-: 
federal votes, might carry its author lief to the opinion that an English 
over Madison's head into the pres- ascendency on the ocean is far safer 
idential chair." Comp., however, on for us than that of France." States- 
this point, Tucker's Life of Jefferson, man's Manual, i. 249. 

ii. 208. 3 Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 147, 

2 In his private correspondence with 148. 

Monroe, Jefferson declared himself in 4 Am. State Papers, 1806-1808 ; 

favor of a permanent peace with Eng- An Essay on the Bights and Duties 


nation meeting was held in Virginia, on hearing of this affair ; chap. 

and a proclamation was issued by the president, complaining J^J^ 

of the insolence of the British cruisers, and ordering all ships 1807. 

July 2. 
of war belonging to that nation to quit immediately the waters 

of the United States. A court of inquiry was also instituted 
to investigate the conduct of the commander of the Chesa- 
peake ; and a vessel was despatched to England, with instruc- 
tions to the American minister to demand reparation, and to 
suspend all other negotiations until the same should be ob- 
tained. 1 

It was at this stage of affairs that the embargo was passed. 
But so soon as the pressure of this act, and of the additional 
and supplementary acts, which were " as satellites to the pri- 1808 - 
mary planet," began to be felt, the people, who from the 
outset had submitted reluctantly, complained bitterly of their 
impolicy. 2 That the real object of the embargo was to oper- 
ate rather on Great Britain than on France was evident from 
the ground taken by its supporters ; and the arrival of the 

of Nations, &c, by an American, Bos- 312 ; Carey's Olive Branch, 113 ; Hil- 
ton, 1807, and App. to ditto, Boston, dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 25. " The 
1808 ; Calm Inquiry, by a Yankee indignation excited by this invasion 
Farmer, Boston, 1807 ; the Voice of of national rights," says Tucker, Life 
Truth, N. York, 1807 ; Carey's Olive of Jefferson, ii. 237, "which was 
Branch, 108-115; Hildreth's U. S., heightened, no doubt, by the feeble 
2d series, ii. 674-681; Tucker's Life resistance made by the Chesapeake, 
of Jefferson, ii. 235 ; Niles's Weekly pervaded every part of the comrmi- 
Register, i. 49-52, 73-78, 89-92. nity; and, in city, town, and country, 
1 Am. State Papers, 1806-1808, there were meetings expressing their 
281 et seq. ; N. Eng. Palladium for keen resentment, tendering their sup- 
April 5, 8, 15, 1808; Tucker's Life port to the government in all measures 
of Jefferson, ii. 228,. 229, 236 ; States- of retribution, and, in the mean time, 
man's Manual, i. 253 ; Hildreth's U. discontinuing every sort of intercourse 
S., 2d series, ii. 682 ; iii. 37, 38. A with British ships of war. On this 
meeting " to strengthen the adminis- question, all parties cordially coop- 
tration," &c, was held in Boston, erated, without distinction; and the 
July 10, over which Elbridge Gerry country, as Mr. Jefferson properly 
presided ; and a second meeting was observed, had never been in such a 
held July 16, at which John Q. Ad- state since the battle of Lexington." 
ams, H. G. Otis, Christopher Gore, 2 For other acts enforcing the 
T. H. Perkins, John Warren, and embargo, see Blake's Examination, 
other distinguished citizens were pres- 11; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 
ent. Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 310- 59. 



Jan. 8. 
Feb. 18 

chap. British orders in council, and of Bonaparte's Milan decree, 
JJ^ served still further to increase the excitement. 1 To have 
sided with France, under these circumstances, would evidently 
have been ruinous to the commerce of the country ; to have 
sided with England might have preserved its most valuable 
portion. That the latter was the more prudent course was 
the view taken by nearly all who were engaged in commercial 
pursuits ; but the Southern States, whose interests were agri- 
cultural chiefly, were of a different opinion, and even imagined 
that a total destruction of commerce would not be a positive 
evil — an opinion in which Jefferson seems to have concurred. 2 
Hence a suggestion of Livermore, of Massachusetts, on the 
floor of the House, that, " since the United States were driven 
by inevitable necessity to choose between the belligerents, a 
regard as well for commercial interests as for the independ- 
ence of nations ought to induce them to side with Great 
Britain," was received with astonishment, as if it had been 
treasonable, and the opposition was denounced as factious and 
disorganizing. 3 

1 Comp. Tucker's Life of Jefferson, 
ii. 268. "It must be recollected," 
says he, " that the measure was de- 
fended by its advocates, not as the 
most profitable, but only as preferable 
to war ; since submission to the inso- 
lent abuses of power by the belliger- 
ents, the only other alternative, was 
defended by no one. It was there- 
fore thought better to bear the evils 
of the embargo for a time, serious as 
they were, than to resort to war. 
There was a chance that those nations 
would abandon their lawless pre- 
tensions when they found they were 
hurtful to themselves as well as to 
their enemies. There was also a 
chance of peace ; and it was distinctly 
foreseen that, beyond a limited time, 
war would be the preferable, as well 
as the certain expedient. It is yet 
believed by some that, if persevered 
in a little longer, the first of these 

expectations would have been real- 

2 Notes on Virginia. See . also 
Thoughts on the Conduct of the Ad- 
ministration, by a Friend to Peace, 
Boston, 1808, and Hildreth's U. S., 
2d series, iii. 50. "Were I to in- 
dulge my own theory, I should wish 
the states to practise neither com- 
merce nor navigation, but to stand, 
with respect to Europe, precisely on 
the footing of China. We should 
thus avoid wars, and all our citizens 
would be husbandmen." 

3 Hildreth's U. S., 2d seiies, iii. 54. 
" Never," says Carey, Olive Branch, 
135, "was I more deceived than I am 
at this moment, if every candid, un- 
biased reader do not agree with me, 
that the opposition to the operation 
of the embargo was factious, disor- 
ganizing, and impolitic in the extreme ; 
and that those who rendered the law 


In the midst of this excitement, the fifth presidential cam- chap. 
paign was approaching ; and, as it had been understood ^^^ 
between Jefferson and Madison that the former was to decline 1808. 
in favor of the latter, a caucus of the members of the legisla- 
ture of Virginia was called, at which one hundred and thirty- Jan. 23. 
four votes were cast for Madison, and forty-seven for Monroe. 1 
The result of the congressional caucus, held the same night, 
was equally decisive in favor of Madison, who received eighty- 
three votes, to three for Monroe, and three for Clinton. 2 In 
Massachusetts, no change was made in the government. Mr. 
Sullivan was reelected and qualified as governor of the state, May 31. 
and Levi Lincoln as lieutenant governor. 3 Yet the federal- 
ists, after a severe struggle, succeeded in obtaining a small 
majority in both branches of the legislature ; and a series of 
resolutions was passed questioning the constitutionality of the ,^7. 
embargo, and condemning it as an experiment both novel and 
dangerous, doubtful in its effects abroad, and full of mischief 
at home. 4 Displeasure was likewise evinced at the course of 

nugatory and unavailing have a high renounce hers, but the question might 
crimg to answer for to their injured be passed over in silence." 
country." John Q. Adams subse- 1 Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 
quently moved an inquiry in the 260 ; Statesman's Manual, i. 259 ; 
Senate, how soon the embargo might Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, hi. 64. 
be repealed ; but the motion was re- In speaking of Jefferson's vindication 
jected. Before Congress adjourned, of himself, in his letter to Monroe, 
however, a law was passed, author- Mr. Tucker observes, Life of Jeffer- 
izing the president to suspend the son, ii. 262, " he is careful not to say 
embargo act, in the event of a peace that he had no preference ; for it can 
between the belligerents of Europe, scarcely be doubted that he thought 
or " if such changes in their meas- Mr. Madison had prior claims to those 
ures affecting neutral commerce took of Mr. Monroe, if upon no other 
place " as might " render that of the ground, at least upon that of sen- 
United States sufficiently safe ; " and iority." 

" this law was passed," says Tucker, 2 Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 260, 
Life of Jefferson, ii. 265, " because note ; Statesman's Manual, i. 260 : 
some hope was then entertained that Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 63. 
a peace between France and England 3 Boston Palladium, June 3, 1808. 
would be effected by the intervention 4 Boston Palladium for June 10, 
of Austria. An intimation had been 1808 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 
given by Napoleon that France would 76-78. These resolutions, offered by 
not require England to renounce her Mr. Wheaton, of Norton, were sub- 
maritime principles, nor would France stantially as follows : " Resolved, 



chap. Mr. Adams ; and, as his senatorial term was soon to expire, 
s- ^iL James Lloyd, an eminent merchant of Boston, was chosen in 
Mr. Adams, upon this, was so much chagrined that 
he resigned his seat — assigning as his reason that he could 
not, after such a vote, consistently hold it longer. But the 
more vehement of the federal party doubted his sincerity, and 
exclaimed, with upraised hands, that " treachery was heredi- 
tary in the family." 1 

1808. his place. 

June 2. 

That the citizens of Massachusetts 
have a natural, necessary, and imme- 
diate interest in the preservation and 
prosperity of commerce, navigation, 
and the fisheries ; to the successful 
extension of which, under the late 
administration, they are, with the 
blessing of Providence, principally in- 
debted for the rapid improvement in 
agriculture and the arts, and for the 
unexampled increase of then' domestic 
resources; — That to secure protec- 
tion and encouragement to these most 
important and unalienable interests, 
was a primary motive for the acces- 
sion of this commonwealth to the 
constitution of the United States ; — 
That we therefore view with anxiety 
and alarm the operation of an em- 
bargo of an unprecedented extent and 
unlimited duration, by which not only 
foreign commerce is annihilated, but 
the most grievous restraints and em- 
barrassments imposed upon the inter- 
course between different states, and 
even between different parts of the 
same state ; — That although a tem- 
porary embargo may be, on some oc- 
casions, expedient as a measure of 
precaution, and the right to impose it 
may be admitted as incident to the 
powers of the national government to 
regulate commerce, yet the power to 
create a permanent embargo upon 
foreign and inland commerce, which 
a majority of Congress cannot repeal 
against the consent of the president, 
was not, it is believed, contemplated 
by the framers of the constitution ; 
and the adoption of this measure, with 
a view to coerce foreign nations, is, in 
our estimation, a novel and dangerous 

experiment, which discourages indus- 
try by destroying its reward, disturbs 
the natural relations of the citizens, 
is equally repugnant to the national 
honor and interest, and while its ef- 
fects in counteracting the oppressive 
policy of any other nation is at least 
doubtful, is pregnant with disastrous 
consequences to our own ; — That, 
while the true policy of the United 
States points to the cultivation of 
peace and amity with all nations, yet, 
if these blessings be unattainable by 
means consistent with national honor, 
the people of this commonwealth will 
be ever ready to sustain all privations, 
and to make every exertion requisite 
to support the dignity and enforce the 
reasonable pretensions of the nation ; 
and it being certain that no degree 
of forbearance and moderation will 
exempt neutral nations at all times 
from insult and aggression, and that 
the claims of military ambition can be 
satiated only by universal dominion, 
it is the duty of government to pre- 
pare for events which it may be im- 
possible to avert ; — That the sphit 
and resources of the country are fully 
adequate to the protection of its mar- 
itime and territorial rights, and ought 
to be directed and employed in such 
preparations as the experience of ages 
demonstrates to be alone safe and 
effectual ; — We cannot, therefore, but 
deprecate a system of measures which, 
instead of providing for the defence 
of our ports and frontier by usual and 
obvious means, has impaired our naval 
force, and left us exposed to every 

1 Hildreth's U. S.. 2d series, iii. 79. 


The public excitement was now very great. By the death chap. 
of Mr. Sullivan,'' the duties of the chief magistracy devolved J^L 
upon Mr. Lincoln, a devoted partisan of Jefferson ; and a 1808. 

Dec. 10. 

more stringent system of policy was introduced. Meetings 
had been held, from time to time, in the principal seaports, to 
remonstrate against the embargo, and to point out the injuries 
it had caused ; but his excellency, in his speech to the General 1809 - 
Court, condemned these meetings as seditious and uncalled 
for. 1 Nor is there reason to doubt that inflammatory speeches 
were made, and that extravagant articles were published in 
the papers. Yet if a few individuals were guilty of such ex- 
cesses, theirs was only the language of exasperated suffering, 
inconsiderately uttered. Senator Adams, indeed, expressed 
his belief, in a communication to the president, that, " from 
information received by him, and which might be relied upon, 
it was the determination of the ruling party in Massachu- 
setts, and of the federalists in New England generally, if the 
embargo was persisted in, no longer to submit to it, but to 
separate themselves from the Union, at least until the existing 
obstacles to foreign commerce were removed ; that the plan 
was already digested ; and that, such was the pressure of the 
embargo upon the community, they would be supported by the 
people." 2 But this was a false alarm ; and, though it was 

1 For the proceedings of these do not remain silent under the impu- 
meetings, see the newspapers of the tation. Ever since the fever of the 
day, and comp. the governor's speech, time has passed away, they maintain 
Jan., 1809; Carey's Olive Branch, 141 that the state of tilings was greatly 
et seq. ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, exaggerated by Mr. Adams, and that 
iii. 113-115. the existence of any negotiation or 

2 Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 286; intrigue between a British agent and 
Statesman's Manual, i. 262 ; Hil- any of the leading politicians of New 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 81, 118. England had no existence except in 
" It is not known," says Tucker, Mr. Adams's fancy, or rather in his 
" whether the information thus com- wilful misrepresentations, which, they 
municated by Mr. Adams was entirely allege, were dictated by a wish to 
accurate ; but that the growing dis- recommend himself to the adminis- 
contents of the country made some tration; and that, in the mission to 
change expedient, would seem to be Russia, which was soon afterwards 
very reasonable. It is but justice to tendered to him by President Madi- 
add, that those who are thus accused son, he received that reward which 


chap.. made a great handle of by the friends of the administration, 
J^^ the proof of such a conspiracy was principally conjectural. 1 
1809. The mission of Mr. Henry, also, who was sent hither, from 
Canada, to act as a spy upon the movements of the federalists, 
was entirely fruitless. Without doubt, it would have been 
pleasing to England to have effected a separation of the states, 
under distinct and independent governments ; and this might 
have been brought about " by a series of acts and long-con- 
tinued policy tending to irritate the southern, and conciliate 
the northern, people." But this object could be attained only 
by " a slow and circumspect progression," and required for 
its consummation " more attention to the affairs which agitate 
and excite parties in this country than Great Britain had yet 
bestowed upon it." 2 

Fortunately for the nation, President Jefferson was not 

uninfluenced by prudential considerations in yielding to the 

Jan. 9. pressure of public opinion. 3 The recent act of Congress to 

had been the main object of his de- unity, the peace, and honor of their 

sertion from the federalists." own country." 

1 " No body of men," says Brad- 2 Bradford, iii. 106, note ; Carey's 
ford, iii. 105, " either of the legislature, Olive Branch, 144 et seq. ; Am. State 
or of towns or counties, ever seriously Papers, 1811-1815 ; Niles's Weekly 
advocated or proposed such ( a meas- Register, ii. 19-28; Boston Centinel 
ure in Massachusetts. Nor was there for March 18, 21, and 28, 1812, and 
ever just reason to believe that any Boston Resolutions, in ibid, for March 
public character, or individuals who 25, 1812; Boston Chronicle for March 
had the confidence of their fellow-citi- 23, 1812 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 
zens, meditated the dissolution of the iii. 284-287. The documents relating 
Union for any purpose whatever. The to Henry's mission were printed at 
members of the legislature remon- Salem, in March, 1812, in a pamphlet 
strated against the embargo, and of thirty-six pages, under the title of 
pointed out its impolicy and destruc- " The Essex Junto and the British 
tive effects. The people, in many Spy, or Treason Detected." On the 
towns, did the same ; and, in some English side of this question, see Eu- 
cases, expressed their fears of an un- ropean Mag. for 1812; Niles's Weekly 
due foreign influence, and an utter Reg. ii. 257, 289. 
disregard of commerce, as among the 3 For Tucker's estimate of Jeffer- 
causes of that oppressive measure. It son's administration, see his Life of 
was not until some years later that Jefferson, ii. 287-293. " This ad- 
the story was made and circulated, ministration," he observes, " vilified 
for party purposes, no doubt, that a as it has been by those whose power it 
portion of the patriotic citizens of superseded, and whose views it thwart- 
Massachusetts was plotting, with the ed, has been appealed to by the 
agents of a foreign nation, against the unbiased portion of the succeeding 


enforce the embargo, under the plea that evasions had taken chap. 
place, and that vessels, cleared only as coasters, had carried J^^ 
cargoes to Europe, was so vehemently opposed, and the reso- 1809.. 
lutions of Massachusetts were so decided, that, joined to the Feb. 2. 
prospective election of Mr. Gore, the candidate of the feder- 
alists, 1 the concurrent remonstrances of the other New Eng- 
land States, and the defection in the ranks of the democrats 
themselves, there was no longer room to doubt the necessity 
of attempting to pacify the people, and to allay the tumult, 
which threatened to become serious. A repeal was therefore 
urged upon Congress — a repeal of the obnoxious embargo 
law ; and an act was passed effecting its repeal after the Feb. 27 
fifteenth of March, so far as related to all countries except 
France and Great Britain, and as to them also after the end 
of the next session of Congress. 2 

The overtures of Erskine, on the part of the English gov- Apr. 17. 
ernment, for an adjustment of the controversy between Great 
Britain and the United States, led to an arrangement, which 
was approved by Madison ; and a thousand vessels were cleared Apr. 19. 
for foreign ports. 3 An act was also passed dropping the em- June, 
bargo provisions, and the exclusion of foreign armed vessels, 
but continuing the non-importation system, with a proviso 
legalizing the trade with Great Britain under the president's 
proclamation. 4 # But the' hopes which were thus raised were 
speedily dashed. Erskine's arrangement was disowned by the 
English government, and his proceedings were criticised with 

generation as the one in which the dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 136, 137. 

country, through the greater part of On the 1st and 2d of March, 1809, an 

its course, experienced more public Address to the People of Massachu- 

prosperity, and, through the whole of setts was approved by the Senate and 

it, was administered more according House, which was afterwards pub- 

to the republican principles of the lished in a pamphlet of twenty-four 

constitution, than any other." 

1 Mr. Gore was elected governor 3 Am. State Papers for 1809 ; Hil- 
this year, by a majority of nearly dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 168 et 
3000 in 93,000 votes. seq. ; Carey's Olive Branch, 162, 180. 

2 Tucker's Life of Jefferson, ii. 286, 4 Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 
287 Carey's Olive Branch, 158 j Hil- 180. 



chap, no little severity. 1 This brought upon the administration a 

J^^ storm of abuse ; and it was found difficult to retrieve the step 

1809. which had beeu taken. Party spirit increased in rancor ; even 

democrats were restive, and the clamors of the federalists were 

louder than ever. 

May> ' Shortly after these occurrences, a new election took place in 

Massachusetts ; and Mr. Gore, who had " the most elevated 

ideas of public and private duty," and whose " conduct was 

always in perfect conformity with his principles," 2 was succeed- 

June2. ed by Elbridge Gerry, who entered upon the duties of his 

office in the following month. 3 Thus the democratic party 

was once more triumphant in the state ; and the result of the 

election was considered as an indorsement of the policy of 


1 An Appeal to the People, &c, 
N. York, 1810 ; the Diplomatic Pol- 
icy of Mr. Madison Unveiled, 8-23 ; 
Robert Smith's Address to the Peo- 
ple of the U. S. 

2 Mem. of Gore, in 3 M. H. Coll. 
iii. 191-204; Austin's Life of Gerry, 
ii. 314, 315. Mr. Gore was a lawyer 
by profession, and politics had long 

been his study. He was attorney for 
the district of Massachusetts, by the 
appointment of Washington, in 1790 ; 
was a commissioner to England, under 
the treaty of 1795 ; and for several 
years was a senator in the state legis- 
lature from the county of Suffolk. 
3 Austin's Life of Gerry, ii. 315. 



The accession of Mr. Gerry to the chief magistracy of chap. 
Massachusetts occurred at a critical period in our local and ^^ 
national affairs. The general government had been compelled isio. 
to submit to a relaxation in the measure of non-intercourse, 
and in its restrictions on commercial pursuits ; but intelligent 
statesmen still demurred at its policy, and a war with England 
was confidently predicted. That such an event was deprecated 
by a majority of the citizens of Massachusetts may well be 
supposed ; and it was believed by many that, under the guid- 
ance of a prudent and magnanimous spirit, the difficulties 
between the two governments might have been amicably ad- 
justed. In both branches of the General Court, the majorities 
were democratic, and there was a harmony of purpose between 
the governor and the legislature. His excellency, in all his 
public communications, approved the course of the national 
administration, and confined his favors, by the advice of his 
friends, to such as were- its supporters. The system of pro- 
scription adopted by Jefferson was followed ; and many were 
removed from office who had long and faithfully served their 
country, and whose principal fault was that they were not of jJJJsjq. 
the dominant party. 1 But however " patriotic " were the 
motives which prompted to this step, it was ill calculated to 
conciliate the opposite party — though, possibly, under like 

1 Message of Governor Gerry of June 20, 1811, in Mass. Resolves, 217, 
218; Bradford, in. 114. 



chap, circumstances, they might have done the same ; and when 
^J^_ " veterans of the revolution," equally with others, were sub- 
1811. jected to privations and treated with neglect, it was suspected 
that " meritorious services " were not so highly esteemed even 
by republicans as might have been inferred from the letter of 
his excellency written twenty years before," the consents of 
which he had possibly forgotten. 1 

The lines, however, were closely drawn ; and, in the hour 
of triumph, those who in former days had condemned others 
for exclusiveness " sinned after the similitude of the same trans- 
gression." The inferior or County Courts were organized 
Jun. 21. anew, to give an opportunity for changes in that quarter ; the 
Jun. 18. appointment of clerks of the judicial courts was vested in 
the governor, instead of in the judges ; and registers of pro- 
Jun.25. bate and sheriffs were superseded by his excellency's political 
friends. 2 Whether such proceedings were in all respects just, 
it must be left to the good sense of the reader to decide. 
" It has been asserted in England," says Matthew Carey, 3 
" that a tory in place becomes a whig when out of place, and 
that a whig when provided with a place becomes a tory." 
And it was, perhaps, by a similar process of reasoning that 
the policy of political proscription was justified. It was 
certainly a convenient way of adjusting responsibilities and 
balancing benefits. The scale turns not ever to the side of 
the ins; and when it happens to sway to the side of the 
outs, it is too much, perhaps, to expect of them that they 
should fail to practise that " disinterested benevolence " for 
which they once pleaded — meaning, of course, benevolence to 
themselves and gratuities to their friends. 4 

1 See p. 313. restored to the offices which they had 

2 Mass. Laws for June, 1811, chaps, held at the beginning of the former 
viii., xxxiii., lxxi., lxxxi. ; Bradford, political year. Bradford, iii. 129. 

iii. 116 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 3 Olive Branch, 84, ed. 1817. 
250. After the election of Mr. Strong, 4 It was for this proscription that 

a number of the officers thus removed Jefferscn applauded Governor Gerry, 

were, by the advice of the council, especially " for the rasping with which 


The sympathy of his excellency with the views of Mr. Mad- chap. 
ison became more apparent the longer he continued in office. Ix * 
Hence, in his speech to the legislature at the opening of the 1812. 
new year, he did not scruple to accuse the federal party of 
being anti-republican in its principles, and opposed to the 
measures of the general government. u Are we not called 
upon," said he, " to decide whether we will commit the liberty 
and independence of ourselves and posterity to the fidelity 
and protection of a national administration, — at the head of 
which is a Madison, supported by an executive department, a 
Senate, and a House of Representatives abounding with revo- 
lutionary and other meritorious patriots, — or to a British 
administration, the disciples of Bute, who was the author of a 
plan to enslave these states, and to American royalists, who 
cooperated with that government to bind us in chains while 
colonists ? Is it not morally and politically impossible that a 
doubt can exist in regard to the choice ? " * 

A month later, a still more extraordinary message was sent Feb. 27. 
to the legislature. The federal press, during the past year, 
had reflected severely upon the conduct of Governor Gerry 
and the policy of the national government. The articles 
inserted in those papers were from different hands ; and some 

he rubbed down his herd of traitors." 1 Gov. Gerry's Message of Jan. 
" Powers and preeminences conferred 8, 1812, in Resolves of Mass. 279; 
on them," he wrote to General Dear- Bradford, iii. 119, note. Towards the 
born, " are daggers put into the hands close of this message, his excellency 
of assassins, to be plunged in our asserts that, during the recess of the 
bosoms the moment the thrust can General Court, he had " received sev- 
go home to the heart." Comp. Hil- eral anonymous threats of assassina- 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 25 1. The tion, for having supported the national 
State Bank was incorporated by the government ; " and that " our late 
legislature in this year, (181 17) with venerable President Adams, that great 
a capital which was finally fixed at and good man, who, in our conflict 
$1,800,000; and the yearly tax of for liberty, was the pride of Massa- 
one half per cent, on this capital was chusetts, and an oracle of Congress, 
the origin of the bank tax since as- has been also threatened with assassi- 
ssssed upon all such institutions, and nation in his bed." For the replies 
from which a large revenue is derived of the Senate and House, see Be- 
to the state. Mass. Laws for June, solves, 284-293. 
1811, chap, lxxxiv. 


chap, of them, it must be conceded, were marked by a coarseness 
^J^L, and excess of vituperation which might well have excited the 
1812. passions of the opposite party. 1 These articles were deemed 
libellous ; and the attention of the attorney and solicitor gen- 
eral was called to them, whose report was sent in with the 
message of his excellency, in which such action was called for 
as the exigency required. 2 

Upon the reading of this message, a debate ensued ; and a 
member of the Senate, of the federal party, offered a resolution 
" that the governor, in denouncing various publications in the 
Boston newspapers as libels, especially after a grand jury, 
upon an examination of some of those publications, had re- 
fused to find bills of indictment, manifests an alarming dispo- 
sition to usurp the power belonging to the judicial department, 
tending to criminate and injure the reputation of individuals, 
without affording them an opportunity of defence ; and that 
the employing of the law officers of the commonwealth in 
examining files of newspapers, for the purpose of collecting 
and divesting such publications, with a view of presenting 
them to the legislature instead of a grand jury, is a departure 
from his constitutional province, and an infringement upon 
private rights." 3 

1 See the articles in the Scourge, Scourge, fifty-one in the Centinel, 
the Centinel, the Repertory, the thirty-three in the Gazette, thirty- 
Gazette, the Palladium, and the Mes- four in the Repertory, eighteen in 
senger, for 1811, and comp. Mass. the Palladium, and one in the Mes- 
Resolves for 1812, 361-364. In these senger. Besides these, seventeen were 
papers, the governor, the council, and reported in the republican papers, 
even the whole legislature, were vio- viz. : eight in the Chronicle, and nine 
lently abused ; and the supreme ex- in the Patriot. Message, p. 1, and 
ecutive was styled a " slanderer," a the Table, pp. 9-12. 
"blasphemer," an " incendiary," &c. 3 Boston Centinel for 1812; Brad- 

2 Mass. Resolves for 1812, 355- ford, iii. 122. In support of this reso- 
361; Independent Chronicle for March lution, it was said that "the message 
16, 1812. This message was pub- was most extraordinary and alarming, 
lished in a pamphlet of twelve pages, striking at the fundamental principles 
with a list of the papers containing of the constitution and of civil liberty j 
the libels. The libels in the federal tending, if suffered to pass into a 
papers numbered two hundred and precedent, to break down the barriers 
thirty-six, viz. : ninety-nine in the erected by the constitution for the 



April 6. 

In the midst of this excitement, a new election took place, chap. 
which resulted in favor of Caleb Strong. The contest was ^J^ 
" uncommonly animated/ 7 and both parties were active ; but 1812. 
the friends of Mr. Gerry, with all their exertions, could not 
overcome the prejudices against him. Yet the vote was close, 
and the majority for Mr. Strong was but thirteen hundred and 
seventy. 1 It is possible that the conduct of Mr. Gerry, in 
districting the state for the election of senators, had some 
influence on the popular vote ; and it was alleged that the 
division thus made, which the federalists christened with the 
name of " Gerrymandering,' 7 was " new and arbitrary," and was 
" designed to secure the triumph of the republican party." And, 
so far as the Senate was concerned, it had that effect ; but a 
majority of the House was of the federal party. It happened 
then, as it has often since, that the movements of politicians, 
however sagacious in their own estimation, failed of effecting 
all they desired. There were elements, not taken into the 
account, which operated against them ; and the fluctuations 
of public opinion were wholly overlooked. 2 

safety of the whole people, and to de- 
stroy all personal liberty and security ; 
that if the governor could thus put at 
defiance the privileges of trial by jury, 
and, with his law officers, dependent 
on himself, sit in judgment on the 
printers, condemn them unheard, and 
proclaim their condemnation to the 
world, after the grand jury had re- 
fused to find bills against them, no 
class of citizens was safe ; all must 
be liable to the same arbitrary exer- 
cise of power." 

1 Celeb Strong had 52,696 votes, 
and Elbridge Gerry had 5 1,326. In- 
dependent Chronicle for June 1,1812; 
Boston Centinel for April 18, 1812; 
Niles's Weekly Register, ii. 134, 239 ; 
Carey's Olive Branch, 281. The vote 
of the previous year was as follows : 
Elbridge Gerry, 43,328 ; Christopher 
Gore, 40,142. The republicans were 
quite facetious over the " lank, lean, 
and slippered majority" of Governor 

vol in. 24 

Strong, and attributed it to the orders 
of the " Junto of Federal Dictators in 
Boston," who sent " runners " into 
every town, "commanding their de- 
pendants and adherents to swell the 
federal returns, legally if they could, 
illegally if they must." 

2 Comp. Resolves of the Worcester 
Convention of March 11, Bristol Con- 
vention of March 12, and Middlesex 
Convention of March 19, 1812, in 
Boston Centinel for March 21 and 
25, 1812; Returns of Senatorial Votes, 
in Centinel for May 20, 1812; Brad- 
ford, hi. 125. Mr. Otis, a member of 
the Senate from Suffolk county, pro- 
tested against the act for districting 
the state, as unconstitutional ; but the 
subject was not discussed, as the ma- 
jority of that body was of the opposite 
party, and would have voted him 
down, had he presented a formal mo- 
tion. For a defence of the policy of 
Gov. Gerry, see the Independent 


The war spirit, in the mean time, was rapidly rising, and 
appearances from all quarters seemed to portend a rupture 
1812. with Great Britain. Even Lloyd, who had taken the place 
of John Quincy Adams in the Senate of the United States, in 
the debate on the navy bill declared in favor of rigorous meas- 
Feb. 27. ures. " Most unquestionably," said he, " peace is the polar 
star of the policy and the interests of this country. It should 
be maintained at every cost short of essential sacrifice. It is 
no disgrace for an infant not to contend with a giant. If all 
the energy and force of the nation cannot be concentrated to 
carry on the war, let us record our wrongs, make the best of 
the existing state of things, and, when we have the ability, 
punish the aggressors to the last letter of the alphabet. But 
if we are to go to war, let it be a real and effectual war. 
Give us a naval force. If, with our commerce abandoned and 
our navigation swept from the face of the ocean, our houses 
are to be battered about our ears, and we, at the same time, 
denied those means of defence which the God of nature has 
given us, and which we know how to use, then, indeed, the 
northern section of this Union will be little better off than 
the colony of Jamaica, and there will be room to suspect 
that, forms apart, we have as little influence in the councils 
of this government as we have in those of Great Britain. 

" If, however, the nation is determined to fight, to make any 
impression on England we must have a navy. Give us thirty 
swift-sailing, well-appointed frigates ; they are better than 

Chronicle for March 9, 1812. " The the state regardless of counties, as the 

constitution," says the writer, " does republicans have done ; and, in 1794, 

not restrict to county lines in forming they wielded the ' carving knife ' in 

districts. The last districting is full such a manner as to cut off the county 

as conformable to the rule of taxes, of Dukes and Nantucket from Barn- 

(and perhaps more so,) as any pre- stable, and annex it to Plymouth, 

viously adopted. If the county lines although Barnstable intervened be- 

are really wished by the federalists to tween Dukes county and Plymouth." 

be the districting lines, why have they For the proceedings of the conven- 

not heretofore acted upon that prin- tions approving the governor's course, 

ciple themselves ? The federal legis- see Independent Chronicle for March 

latures of 1794 and 1802 districted 19, 1812. 

Lloyd's speech in congress. 371 

seventy-fours, because managed easier. Indeed, we do not chap. 
want seventy-fours ; for, courage being equal, in line-of-battle- ^^ 
ship and fleet engagements, skill and experience will always 1812. 
insure success. We are not ripe for them. But bolt together, 
side to side, a British and an American frigate, and though 
we should lose sometimes, we should win as often. Give us, 
then, this little fleet. Place your navy department under an 
able and spirited administration ; give tone to the service ; 
cashier every officer who strikes his flag ; and you will soon 
have a good account of your navy. This may be said to be 
a hard tenure of service ; but, hard or easy, embark in an 
actual, vigorous war, and in a few weeks, perhaps days, I will 
engage completely to officer your whole fleet from New Eng- 
land alone. 

" Give us this little fleet, and in a quarter of the time you 
would operate upon her in any other way we would bring 
Great Britain to terms. To terms — not to your feet. No, 
sir. Great Britain is at present the most colossal power the 
world ever witnessed. True, she has an enormous national 
debt of seven hundred millions of pounds sterling. Her daily 
expenditures would in six short weeks wipe off the whole 
public debt of the United States. But will these millstones 
sink her ? Will they subject her to the power of France ? 
No, sir. Burst the bubble to-morrow ; destroy the fragile 
basis on which her public credit stands ; sponge her national 
debt ; revolutionize her government ; cut the throats of her 
royal family ; and, dread&l as would be the process, she 
would rise with renovated vigor from the fall, and present to 
her enemy a more imposing, irresistible front than ever. No, 
sir : Great Britain cannot be subjected by France. The gen- 
ius of her institutions, the genuine game-cock, bull-dog spirit 
of her people, will lift her head above the waves long after 
the dynasty of Bonaparte, and the ill-gotten power of France, 
collected by plunder, perfidy, and usurpation, shall, like the 
unreal image of old, have crumbled into atoms 


" From this belief, I acknowledge, I derive a sentiment of 
gratulation. In New England, our blood is unmixed. We 
1812. are the direct descendants of Englishmen. We are natives of 
the soil. In the legislature, now in session, of the respectable 
and once powerful State of Massachusetts, composed of near 
seven hundred members, 1 to my knowledge not a single for- 
eigner holds a seat. As Great Britain wrongs us, I would fight 
her. Yet I should be worse than a barbarian did I not re- 
joice that the sepulchres of our forefathers, which are in that 
country, would remain unsacked, and their coffins rest undis- 
turbed by the unhallowed rapacity of the Goths and Saracens 
of modern Europe." 2 

April 1. Already had the president, influenced by political motives, 
consented to take the leadership in a new step towards war, 
by a confidential message to Congress recommending, " under 
existing circumstances and prospects/ 7 an embargo for sixty 
days ; and a bill for that purpose was introduced and passed, 

April 4. which prohibited the sailing of any vessel for any foreign port, 
except foreign vessels with such cargoes as they had on board 
when notified of the act. 3 Josiah Quincy expressed in strong 
terms his abhorrence of this measure, and declared that he 
did not believe the proposed embargo was a preparation for 
war, but a refuge from the question of declaring war. " In 
every point of view," said he, " I look on this measure as an 
abandonment of our national rights ; as impolitic ; as decep- 
tive ; as calculated to impress on the American people an idea 
that it is your intention to maintain commercial rights, which 
its true effect is to abandon. Its tendency must be to raise 
jealousy between the Southern and the Eastern and Middle 

1 The whole number of represents- 3 Hist, Cong, for 1811-12 ; Niles's 
tives this year was 713. Mass. Reg. Weekly Register, ii. 92, 96-98, 105- 
for 1812; Niles's Weekly Reg. ii. 107, 121-123; Boston Centinel for 
239. April 4 and 11, 1812; Independent 

2 Annals of Congress, 12th Cong. Chronicle for April 16, 1812 ; Hil- 
lst sess. vol. i. 131-147 ; Hildreth's dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 290-293. 
U. S., 2d series, iii. 278-281. 


States. The flour and produce of the Southern States have chap. 
had, during the whole winter, an open trade and free market. ^J^_ 
Those of the Middle and Eastern States have been restrained 1812. 
by climate and winter. Is it by a course of policy of this kind 
that you intend to conciliate affection or excite confidence ? 
Will it not be said that, your own products being sold, you 
were indifferent what became of ours ? " l 

Other acts, however, which speedily followed, were still 
more decisive. For not only were arrangements made for 
raising an army, 2 but a bill was passed denouncing all persons Apr. 14. 
as pirates and felons who might be engaged in impressing, on 
the high seas, any American citizens ; authorizing resistance 
to the death ; requiring the president to retaliate ; and assign- 
ing to every impressed seaman thirty dollars per month for 
the period of his detention, to be levied on any British prop- 
erty found in the United States, or debt due to a British sub- 
ject. 3 It was for his concurrence in these measures, which 
were forced upon him, 4 that those who were eager for war 
engaged to support Mr. Madison for the presidency at the 
ensuing election, and Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, for the 
vice presidency ; and, after pledging themselves fully to this May 18. 

1 Niles's Weekly Register, ii. 107, law, as would enable those having 
121 ; Hist. Cong, for 1811-12 ; Hil- property in foreign ports to bring the 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 293. The same home, was presented in the 
speech of Mr. Quincy, delivered Jan- House by Mr. Reed, and in the Sen- 
uary 25, 1812, on Maritime Protec- ate by Mr. Lloyd, April 30, 1812. 
tion, was printed in pamphlet form, Boston Centinel for May 9, 1812. 

at Alexandria, by S. Snowden. 4 " President Madison was, with 

2 Niles's Weekly Register, ii. 103, much difficulty, brought to acquiesce 
118; Hist. Cong, for 1811-12 ; Hil- in warlike measures of a decisive 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 295, 296. character. He still hoped that war 

3 Niles's Weekly Register, ii. 147, might be avoided, either b} a negoti- 
148; Hist. Cong, for 1811-12; Hil- ation, or a continuance of restrictive 
dreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 296. This measures on commerce with Great 
bill was passed in the House by a Britain. But he was soon made to 
vote of 53 to 28. See, further, Pick- understand that a more decided and 
ering's Letters, in Boston Repertory energetic action on the part of the 
for 1812, and in Niles's Weekly Reg. federal government was determined 
ii. 155, 185, 201. The Boston peti- on by the ardent democrats, whose 
tion, signed by 535 merchants and influence now predominated in Con- 
others, praying for the repeal, or such gress." Statesman's Manual, i. 348. 
modification of the non-importation 


chap, course, they felt assured of the cooperation of Madison in 

^J^^ carrying out their views. 1 
1812. In the mean time, in England, the British ministers issued 
pr " ' a declaration, in which they gave a concise statement of events 
which preceded their orders in council, and mentioned the 
terms for their revocation. In this document it was again 
declared that " if, at any time hereafter, the Berlin and Milan 
decrees shall, by some authentic act of the French government, 
publicly promulgated, be absolutely and unconditionally re- 
pealed, then, and from thenceforth, the orders in council of 
January 7, 1807, and April 26, 1809, shall, without any 
further order, be, and the same are declared from thence- 
forth to be, wholly and absolutely revoked." 2 This, certainly, 
did not look like a positive intention on the part of Great 
Britain to act unjustly towards the United States ; nor, while 
the French decrees remained unrepealed, does there seem to 
have been just cause to complain of the conduct of her rulers, 
though there might be good reason to object to her orders as 
injurious to neutrals, especially to this country. 3 It so hap- 

1 Niles's Weekly Register, ii. 192, ter of H. G. Otis, Esq., to a friend in 
196, 276,321; iv. 21; Statesman's London, though severely censured in 
Manual, i. 348, 356 ; Hildreth's U. S., the papers at the time, will probably 
2d series, iii. 298, 333. " Had not be viewed at the present day in a 
threats to oppose his reelection driven more favorable light. " It is too true," 
Madison to take the lead, no deck- says he, " that the repeal of the Ber- 
ration of war could have been carried lin and Milan decrees has been less 
in either House of Congress." At the formal than it should have been, and 
caucus referred to in the text, Madi- that our administration have become 
son received 82 votes — the whole willing dupes to the insidious policy 
number cast ; and for the office of of Napoleon. But why should your 
vice president, John Langdon, of New government mind that ? Why should 
Hampshire, received 64 votes, and they not embrace any pretence for 
Elb ridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, 16; restoring harmony between our coun- 
but the latter vote was afterwards tries, especially as it will of conse- 
changed, and Mr. Gerry was elected, quence be followed by hostility on 
He died, however, soon after entering the part of France ? Napoleon will 
upon his duties. renew his outrages the moment we 

2 European Mag. for July, 1812, are friends, and the natural ties which 
63 ; Niles's Weekly Reg. ii. 229 ; cement Great Britain and America 
Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 180 ; will be drawn closer. On the con- 
Statesman's Manual, i. 355. trary, the scrupulous adherence of 

3 The following extract from a let- your cabinet to an empty punctilio, 



pened, however, that, at that very time, an old decree was chap. 
produced by the French government consenting to the repeal ^J^ 
of its decrees in regard to American vessels ; and this was 1812. 

May 20. 

communicated to Lord Yiscount Castlereagh, one of his 
majesty's principal secretaries of state, by the American min- 
ister, in the following month. The repeal of the orders in Jun. 23. 
council followed ; but, before the intelligence reached the 
United States, war had been declared by Congress against Jun. 18. 
Great Britain, and the door to reconciliation was unhappily 
closed. 1 

Of the policy of this step different opinions were then, and 
have since been, entertained. The reasons publicly given for 
the declaration of war were substantially as follows : " the 
impressment of American seamen by the commanders of Brit- 
ish ships of war ; their doctrine and system of blockade ; and 

will too probably unite the whole 
country in opposition to your nation, 
and sever for generations, perhaps 
forever, interests which have the most 
natural affinity, and men who ought 
to feel and love like brethren." Comp. 
Boston Centinel for April 25, 1812, 
and Independent Chronicle for April 
27, 1812. 

1 Report of the Com. of the Sen- 
ate of Mass. 22, 23 ; European Mag. 
for July, 1812, 63, 64 ; Niles's Reg. 
ii. 267-272, 279-281, 392; Suppt. 
to Loudon Gaz. for June 23, 1812 ; 
Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 180 ; 
Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. 303- 
306, 344-347. This declaration was 
drawn by William Pinkney, the at- 
torney general. Ingersoll's Hist, of 
the War, i. 14. The message of the 
president, which was confidential, was 
sent to Congress on the 1st of June, 
and was debated with closed doors; 
and the declaration of war was adopted 
in the House, June 4, by a vote of 79 
to 49, and in the Senate, June 17, by 
a vote of 19 to 13. Of the seventy- 
nine members of the House, who 
voted for the war, sixty-two resided 

south, and seventeen , north of the 
Delaware ; of the nineteen senators 
who voted on the same side, four- 
teen resided south, and five north 
of that river. The whole number of 
members in both branches north of 
the Delaware, was sixty-eight, of 
whom only tw r enty-one voted for the 
war. " Thus the war may be said to 
have been a measure of the South 
and West, to take care of the interests 
of the North, much against the will 
of the latter." Niles's Reg. ; States- 
man's Manual ; Journals of Cong., &c. 
The revocation of the British orders, 
it should be observed, was not abso- 
lute, but conditional ; and the condition 
annexed was, that the government of 
the United States should revoke their 
recent acts, excluding British armed 
vessels from then harbors and waters, 
and interdicting commerce between 
the two countries. For the proceed- 
ings in England, on this subject, see 
Liverpool Mercury of April 10, 1812 ; 
European Mag. for 1812 ; Niles's 
Weekly Reg. ii. 189; Independent 
Chronicle for May 21 and 25, 1812. 



chap, the adoption and continuance of the orders in council, which 
^J^^ operated extensively to the interruption and injury of the 
I812. American commerce." The two latter, it was said, were " not 
to be tolerated by civilized communities, being founded, not in 
right or justice, but in force ; " and the former was declared to 
be " utterly inconsistent with the honor and attributes of an 
independent nation." To these was also added " a long and 
unsatisfied demand for remuneration on account of depredations 
committed by the subjects of that government on the lawful 
commerce of the United States." J 

Of the validity of this reasoning many were not satisfied ; 
and, though war with England had evidently been contem- 
plated by the administration for some time previously to its 
formal declaration, and no patriotic citizen justified in all re- 
spects the conduct of the British government, it was equally 
apparent, when all the facts were known, that the cabinet had 
highly colored the British acts of aggression, and had kept out 
of sight, or cast into the shade, the still more arbitrary meas- 
ures of the French government. 2 True, there were not wanting 

1 Address of the House of Reps. 
of Mass. in Mass. Resolves ; Brad- 
ford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 181. Mr. 
Ingersoll is of opinion, Hist, of the 
War, i. 15, that "the war of 1812, 
like the revolution, was inevitable, 
and defensive ; undertaken for vindi- 
cation, not for aggrandizement, al- 
though Canadian conquest was to be 
one of its means. The cause was just ; 
the preparation greater ; also the for- 
bearance ; and the consequences as 
beneficial." See, however, on the 
other side, the N. Am. Review for 
July 1816, 234. 

2 Bradford's Hist. Fed. Gov't. 181. 
" Confidently believing," says Niles's 
Weekly Reg. ii. 207, " that the United 
States will soon be placed in an atti- 
tude to defend then rights and redress 
their grievances, and assured that the 
momentous question of war will, in a 
few days, be laid before Congress, and 
adopted, without delay or much idle 

debate, it is time to pause, ' to stiffen 
the sinews, to summon up the blood,' 
and take our stand on the side of our 
country. The proposition has long 
been looked for. Every man has ex- 
pected, or hoped, or feared it might 
come. The people, as well as their 
representatives have deeply and ear- 
nestly reflected upon it. It is univer- 
sally agreed that the present state of 
things cannot, must not, last. Seeing, 
then, no prospect of the continuance 
of peace, — and, in truth, not desiring 
it on the terms we now have it, if 
peace it can be called, — it becomes 
us to enter the contest like men who 
have ' counted the cost of it,' and rec- 
onciled their minds to the endurance 
of an evil they cannot avoid." For 
Randolph's Speech of May 29, in view 
of the rumor of an " intended decla- 
ration of war," and for the debate 
which ensued, see Niles's Reg. ii. 



some members, even of the federal party, who sanctioned the chap. 
course of the president, and justified his policy. And it would ^^ 
not be difficult to cull from their writings numerous passages 1812. 
which the stanchest democrat would have cordially approved. 1 
Nor would it be difficult to show, also, that respectable repub- 
licans were averse to the war. In approving or condemning 
the conduct of the executive, party feeling did not always rule, 
but each viewed the subject from the standpoint of his own 
interests, and decided accordingly. 2 

In Boston, the metropolis of Massachusetts, which had " long 
been the seat of discontent, complaint, and turbulence," the 
opposition was quite general. " Whatever difficulty or dis- 
tress," it is said, " arose from the extraordinary circumstances 

1 Even John Adams, the former 
president of the United States, who 
" snuffed the battle like an old war 
horse," wrote to Elkanah Watson, 
July 6, 1812, " To your allusion to the 
war, I have nothing to say, but that it 
is with surprise I hear it pronounced, 
not only by newspapers, but by per- 
sons in authority, ecclesiastical and 
civil, political and military, an unjust 
and unnecessary war ; that the decla- 
ration of it was altogether unexpected, 
&c. How it is possible that a rational, 
a social, or a moral creature can say 
that the war is unjust, is to me utterly 
incomprehensible. How it can be said 
to be unnecessary, is very mysterious. 
/ have thought it both just and neces- 
sary for five or six years. How it can 
be said to be unexpected, is another 
wonder. I have expected it more 
than five and twenty years, and have 
had great reason to be thankful that it 
has been postponed so long. I saw 
such a spirit in the British Islands, 
when I resided in France, in Holland, 
and in England itself, that I expected 
another war much sooner than it has 
happened." See Niles's Reg. ii. 372, 
ind comp. Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, 
iii. 305 ; Ingersoll's Hist, of the War, 
i. 47, 48. Henry Clay, afterwards 
distinguished as a leader of the whig 
party, in a debate on the embargo 

question, in April, 1812, also " warmly 
expressed his satisfaction and full ap- 
probation of the president's message, 
and the proposition before the com- 
mittee." And "he approved of it, 
because it was to be received as a 
direct precursor to war." Niles's 
Reg. v. 105 ; Statesman's Manual, i. 

2 Comp. Bradford's Hist. Fed. 
Gov't. 181 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d se- 
ries, iii. 305. " The Eastern States," 
says Ingersoll, Hist, of the War, i. 
66, " were mostly opposed to the war ; 
the West all for it; the Southern 
and Middle States divided. The war 
administration had a majority of about 
forty votes in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, and of several in the Senate. 
The war was opposed by most of the 
merchants, lawyers, and clergy, and 
some of the planters. It was sup- 
ported generally by the farmers, plant- 
ers, mechanics, mariners, and the 
mass of the people. Taking the rea- 
soning faculty of the country for 
judge, probably the declaration of 
war was mostly condemned ; but the 
instinctive patriotism of the young, 
the laborious, and ardent, enthusiasti- 
cally maintained it. Few denied that 
there was cause enough ; though the 
time and mode were condemned." 
Comp. Statesman's Manual, i. 351. 


chap, of the times, — and great difficulty and distress were inevita- 
ble, — was aggravated and magnified to the highest degree for 
the purpose of inflaming the public passions. . . . From 
the moment when the war was declared, they clamored for 
peace, and reprobated the war as wicked, unjust, and unneces- 
sary. . . . They made every possible effort to raise ob- 
structions and difficulties in the prosecution of the war, and 
yet reprobated the administration for their imbecility in car- 
rying it on. They reduced the government to bankruptcy 
and reproached it for its necessities and embarrassments. In 
a word, all their movements had but one object — to enfeeble 
and distract the government." l 

This charge, without doubt, is stated in terms sufficiently 
strong, and there may be reason to question its correctness in 
every particular. Yet the acknowledgment must be made, 
that the party opposed to the war carried their opposition to 
a considerable length, though they seem never to have intend- 
ed wilfully to obstruct the government or thwart its action. 
The pressure of their grievances had exasperated them to a 
high degree ; and they felt that their causes of complaint were 
such as to justify their remonstrances and protests. Yet if 
the bounds of prudence were overstepped in some cases, it 
should not be inferred that there was an organized plan to 
resist the action of the government; nor should individual 
cases of intemperate zeal be charged to the body of the peo- 
ple, as if they approved them. 2 

1 Carey's Olive Branch, 253. claring their confidence in the justice 

Comp. Ingersoll's Hist, of the War, of their cause, and their readiness to 

i. 59. Before the declaration of war support the measures adopted by the 

was issued, a memorial of the legis- national government, with that energy 

lature of Massachusetts, passed by a and firmness which becomes a free 

vote of 406 to 240, was sent to Con- people. Indep. Chronicle for June 

gress, setting forth the inexpediency 4, 8, 11, and 15, 1812; Niles's Keg. 

of a war with Great Britain, and ii. 274, 275. The memorial of the 

stating the dangers, calamities, and merchants and others of New York, 

ruin that would ensue. A protest of against war, is given in Niles's Reg. 

the minority of the House against this ii. 278, 279. 
memorial was likewise sent in, de- 2 See the Boston Centinel for 1812 


Intelligence of the declaration of war reached Boston on the chap. 


twenty-third of June ; and, as the General Court was then in ^^^ 
session, the governor communicated it to the representatives i8i* 
of the people. Immediately the House prepared an address, Jim ^6" 
which was adopted by a vote of nearly twG to one, regretting 
the event, and expressing their opinion of its impolicy and 
inexpediency. 1 The action of the Senate was exactly oppo- 
site ; and that body adopted and published an address approv- 
ing of the war, and declaring it, in their opinion, just and 
necessary. 2 The vote of the House, however, more nearly 
expressed the views of the people ; and three fifths, at least, 
if not a greater proportion, were computed to be opposed to 
the war, both before and after its declaration by Congress. 3 

The appeal of the Senate, as it fell in with the plans and 
breathed the spirit of those who were hostile to England and 
friendly to France, was applauded as a document of great 
power and force. " It was not sufficient " — such were its 
words — " that we were remote from European politics, and 
courted peace under every sacrifice ; acquiesced in minor inju- 
ries ; remonstrated against those of a deeper dye ; forbore until 
forbearance became pusillanimity ; and, finally, retired from 
the scene of controversy, with the delusive hope that a spirit 
of moderation might succeed that of violence and rapine. 
We were hunted on the ocean ; our property was seized upon 

1 Boston Centinel for July 1, 1812; organized, composed principally of 
Address, &c., pub. in Boston ; Brad- the federalists and some disaffected 
ford, iii. 130. The vote in the House democrats, under the name of the 
stood 406 to 240, which was the same " peace party," which endeavored to 
as the vote on the memorial of an compel the government to make 
earlier date, forwarded to Congress, peace by raising every possible ob- 
in favor of peace, and deprecating the struction to the war. This course, by 
evils of war with England. the friends of the war, was considered 

2 The report and address were as actuated more by feelings of party 
published in a pamphlet of 28 pages, spirit than by patriotism ; and many 
by Adams and Rhoades, of Boston, prominent federalists gave the gov- 
See also Bradford, iii. 129. eminent their support, so far as they 

3 Bradford, iii. 120. Immediately found it disposed to carry on the war 
after the declaration of war was an- with vigor and effect. Statesman's 
nounced, a party is said to have been Manual, i. 355. 


chap, by the convulsive grasp of our now open and acknowledged 
^^^ enemy, and our citizens forced into a cruel and ignominious 
i«i2. vassalage. And when we retired, we were pursued to the 
threshold of our territory ; outrages of an enormous cast per- 
petrated in our baj% and harbors ; the tomahawk of the savage 
uplifted against the parent, the wife, the infant, on our fron- 
tiers ; and spies and incendiaries sent into the bosom of our 
country, to plot with the desperate and ambitious the dismem- 
berment of our government, and involve us in all the horrors 
of a civil war. 

"The constituted authorities of the United States, in Con- 
gress assembled, submitting the justice of their cause to the 
God of battles, have at length declared war against this impla- 
cable foe — a war for the protection of commerce ; a war for 
the liberties of our citizens ; a war for our national sovereignty 
and independence ; a war for our republican form of govern- 
ment against the machinations of despotism. 

" The Senate affect not to disguise from their constituents 
that the times are times of peril. The enemies ' of republics 
are on the alert. The present is deemed the favorable time 
for the dismemberment of the Union — that favorite project 
of the British government, which has been attempted by their 
authorized agent, and, we have alarming proofs, is counte- 
nanced and cherished by citizens of this government. Yes, 
we say with assurance that a deep and deadly design is formed 
against our happy Union. We say it from conviction, forced 
on our minds, from declarations from responsible sources, from 
intrigues that have existed between the enemies of republics 
and an authorized British spy, and from a settled determina- 
tion to oppose the government in the prosecution of the war 
now forced upon us. 

" The Senate will not assert that there exists a party — in 
the two grand divisions in which parties are generally divided 
in the United States, and on which the Senate are reluctantly 
compelled to animadvert — which gives countenance to such 


nefarious projects. The great body of the people are Ameri- chap. 
cans. It is the enemies of republics of whom we speak, — mon- _^_ 
archists in principle and by profession, — who disguise not 1812. 
their enmity to our happy government, and do not conceal 
their intention to embrace the opportunity of popular disaffec- 
tion and commotion to attempt a revolution. Deeply impressed 
with the solemnity of the crisis, and with the dangers attendant 
on our beloved country, as well from our declared enemy as 
from our intestine foes, the Senate have contemplated the duties 
which, as members of the social compact, each individual owes 
to his country ; and they declare them to be, a firm support 
of the government of their choice. The rightful authority has ^ 
decreed. Opposition must cease. He that is not for his coun- 
try is against it. The precedents on record will serve for 
your guide. When engaged with this same enemy, our fathers 
obeyed the calls of their country, expressed through the author- :0 
ity of their edicts. In imitation of their example, let the laws 
every where be obeyed with the most prompt alacrity ; let the 
constituted authorities be aided by the patriotic efforts of 
individuals ; let the friends of the government rally, under ^ 
committees of public safety, in each town, district, and plan- 
tation ; let a common centre be formed by a committee in each 
county, that seasonable information may be given of the move- 
ments of the enemy ; let our young men who compose the 
militia be ready to march at a moment's warning to any part 
of our. shores, in defence of our coast. These precautions are 
rendered necessary against our external foe, and the internal 
machinations she may again attempt. These measures are 
sanctified by the example of our fathers in our revolutionary 
struggle. And, relying on the patriotism of the whole people, 
let us commit our cause to the God of battles, and implore his 
aid and success in the preservation of our dearest rights and 
privileges." l 

1 Address of the Senate, 26-28 ; Niles's Reg. ii. 308, 309. 


chap. The address of the House was couched in different term?. 

_JJL, <l You are now/' it said, " involved in war. The event forms 
1812. a new era to our national history. It is an event awful, unex- 
pected, hostile to your interests, menacing to your liberties, and 
revolting to your feelings. It destroys your confidence in the 
protection which the constitution intended to afford against 
all wars repugnant to the interest and will of the people, and 
proves that your Congress is in greater subjection to executive 
influence, and to the passions of the few, than to the ascend- 
ency of dispassionate counsels. But your duties are great in 
proportion to the magnitude of the exigency, and the trial 
imposed upon your fortitude and patriotism. 

" You are the citizens of one country, and bound to support 
all constitutional laws, until by a peaceable change of men, 
you can effect the repeal of such as are obnoxious. You must 
also defend your country against invasion by any foreign ene- 
my, without weighing the justice or necessity of the war. "We 
pray you to discourage all attempts to obtain redress of griev- 
ances by any acts of violence or combinations to oppose the 
laws. Your habits of obedience to the dictates of duty, your 
just and temperate views of your social and political obliga- 
tions, your firm attachment to the constitution, are pledges for 
the correctness of your conduct. When a great people find 
themselves oppressed by the measures of their government, — 
when their just rights are neglected, their interests overlooked, 
their opinions disregarded, and their respectful petitions re- 
ceived with supercilious contempt, — it is impossible for them 
to submit in silence. In other countries, such occurrences pro- 
duce tumults, rebellion, and civil war. But in our country, a 
peaceable remedy may be found for these evils in the constitu- 
tion. Situated, however, as you now are, every man must be 
quick to discern, and active to supply, this remedy. It must 
be evident to you that a president who has made this war is 
not qualified to make peace ; and that the men who have con- 
curred in this act of desperation are pledged to persevere in 


this course, regardless of all consequences. Display, then, the chap. 
majesty of the people in the exercise of your rights, and, sac- V ^^J W 
rificing all party feelings at the altar of your country's good, 1812. 
resolve to displace those who have abused their power and 
betrayed their trust. Organize a peace party throughout your 
country, and let all other party distinctions vanish. Keep a 
steadfast eye upon the presidential election, and remember that 
if he whose fatal policy has plunged you into this unexampled 
calamity is again raised to the chair, and if the abettors of 
war are to be intrusted with conducting it, you will have noth- 
ing to expect, for years to come, but ' the sword of the warrior, 
and garments rolled in blood ; ' and that if you should, by 
your aid, accelerate the fall of Great Britain, you would 
merely deliver over your exhausted country and enslaved pos- 
terity to the dominion of a tyrant, whose want of power alone 
restrains him from the exercise of unlimited despotism on the 
ocean, and the same tyranny in the new world which he has 
imposed upon the old." 1 

The address of the federal members of Congress was equally 
temperate. " The momentous question of war with Great 
Britain/ 7 it said, " is decided. On this topic, so vital to your 
interests, the right of public debate, in the face of the world, 
and especially of their constituents, has been denied to your 
representatives. They have been called into secret session, on 
this most interesting of all your public relations, although the 
circumstances of the time and of the nation afforded no one 
reason for secrecy, unless it be found in the apprehension of 
the effect of public debate on public opinion, or of public 
opinion on the result of the vote. 

" Except the message of the president of the United States, 
which is now before the public, nothing confidential was com- 
municated. That message contained no fact not previously 

1 Address of House, in Columbian Centinel for July 1, 1812; Niles's 
Reg. ii. 417. 


chap, known. No one reason for war was intimated but such as 


^^^ was of a nature public and notorious. The intention to wage 
1812. war, and invade Canada, had been long since openly avowed. 
The object of hostile menace had been ostentatiously an- 
nounced. The inadequacy of both our army and navy for 
successful invasion, and the insufficiency of the fortifications 
for the security of our seaboard, were every where known. 
They have carefully been kept in ignorance of the progress 
of measures until the purposes of administration were consum- 
mated, and the fate of the country sealed. In a situation so 
extraordinary, the undersigned have deemed it their duty by 
no act of theirs to sanction a proceeding so novel and arbi- 
trary. On the contrary, they made every attempt in their 
power to attain publicity for their proceedings. All such 
attempts were vain. When this momentous subject was stated 
as for debate, they demanded that the doors should be opened. 
" It has always been the opinion of the undersigned that a 
system of peace was the policy which most comported with the 
character, condition, and prospects of the United States ; that 
their remoteness from the theatre of contest in Europe was 
their peculiar felicity ; and that nothing but a necessity abso- 
lutely imperious should induce them to enter as parties into 
wars in which every consideration of virtue and policy seems 
to be forgotten under the overbearing sway of rapacity and 
ambition. There is a new era in human affairs ; the European 
world is convulsed. The advantages of our situation are 
peculiar. ' Why quit our own, to stand upon foreign ground ? 
Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of 
Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of 
European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice ? ; x 

" In addition to the many moral and prudential considera- 
tions which should deter thoughtful men from hastening into 
the perils of such a war, there are some peculiar to the United 

1 Washington. 


States, resulting from the texture of the government and the chap. 
political relations of the people. A form of government in no ^J^, 
small degree experimental, composed of powerful and inde- isi2. 
pendent sovereignties, associated in relations some of which 
are critical as well as novel, should not be hastily precipitated 
into situations calculated to put to trial the strength of the 
moral bond by which they are united. Of all states, that of 
war is most likely to call into activity the passions which are 
hostile and dangerous to such a form of government. Time 
is yet important to our country to settle and mature its recent 
institutions. Above all, it appeared, from signs not to be 
mistaken, that, if we entered upon this war, we did it as a 
divided people — not only from a sense of the inadequacy of 
our means to success, but from moral and political objections 
of great weight and very general influence. 

" A nation like the United States, happy in its great local 
relations ; removed from the bloody theatre of Europe ; with 
a maritime border opening vast fields for enterprise ; with ter- 
ritorial possessions exceeding every real want ; its firesides 
safe ; its altars undefiled ; from invasion nothing to fear ; 
from acquisition nothing to hope, — how shall such a nation 
look to Heaven for its smiles, while throwing away, as though 
they were worthless, all the blessings and joys which peace 
and such a distinguished lot include ? With what prayers can 
it address the Most High, when it prepares to pour forth its 
youthful rage upon a neighboring people, from whose strength 
it has nothing to dread, and from whose devastation it has 
nothing to gain ? 

u It is said that war is demanded by honor. Is national 
honor a principle which thirsts after vengeance, and is ap- 
peased only by blood ? — which, trampling on the hopes of 
man, and spurning the law of God, untaught by what is past 
and careless of what is to come, precipitates itself into any 
folly or madness, to gratify a selfish vanity or satiate some 
unhallowed rage ? If honor demands a war with England, 

vol. in. 25 


chap, what opiate lulls that honor to sleep over the wrongs done 
^J^, us by France ? On land, robberies, seizures, imprisonments, 
1812. by French authority ; at sea, pillage, sinkings, burnings, 
under French orders. These are notorious. Are they unfelt 
because they are French ? Is any alleviation to be found in 
the correspondence and humiliations of the present minister 
plenipotentiary of the United States at the French court? 
In his communications to our government, as before the public, 
where is the cause for now selecting France as the friend . of 
our country, and England as the enemy ? 

"At a crisis of the world such as the present, and under 
impressions such as these, the undersigned could not consider 
the war, in which the United States have in secret been pre- 
cipitated, as necessary, or required by any moral duty or 
political expediency.' 7 x 

Thus reasoned the two parties for and against the war. 
Nor should it be forgotten here that the party which favored 
the war, out of New England especially, was not only stimu- 
lated to assume a defiant position by the encroachments of 
Great Britain, and the diffusion through its body of political 
exiles from England and Ireland, but by the growing spirit 
of adventure, and the thirst for distinction on the field of 
battle, which twenty years of foreign disturbance had natu- 
rally generated. At the south these feelings were more prev- 
alent than at the north ; for there was a large number of 
enterprising young men, left in idleness by the institution of 
slavery, who, as they read of the battles of Europe, sighed for 
swords and for military glory. 2 But the people of Massachu- 

1 Address of the House of Reps., 2 Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, in. 

passim. Comp. Niles's Reg. ii. 309- 318. " If there was a probability of a 

316 ; Hildreth's U. S., 2d series, iii. warmth France instead of England," 

320-323. The name of Josiah Quin- said the republicans, "it would lose 

cy, of Massachusetts, stands at the all its horrors with the federal party, 

head of the list of subscribers to The Centinel would not then pub- 

this address, and the document was lish labored extracts from sermons 

draughted by him, and revised by preached in England, describing the 

his associates. miseries and devastations of war j nor 


setts, who were principally engaged in commercial pursuits, chap. 
and whose spirit of thrift was greater than their thirst for ^J^ 
military renown, were inclined to peace — not from cowardice, 1812. 
nor from a willingness to sacrifice the interests of their coun- 
try, but from a profound conviction that peace was the policy 
of the nation, and would subserve its interests better than 
war. Nor is there reason to question the sincerity of this 
conviction, whatever may be thought of the correctness of 
their position. 1 

The requisition upon Massachusetts for a detachment of 
militia, which immediately followed the declaration of war, jun. 22. 
led to a correspondence between General Dearborn and Gov- 
ernor Strong, in which the state of public feeling was palpably 
manifested. General Dearborn had been recently appointed 
to command the United States troops then stationed in Mas- 
sachusetts, and, by the authority of the president, wrote to the 
governor for a detachment of forty-one companies of artillery 
and infantry, eight of which were to be marched to Rhode 
Island, and the rest to be stationed within the limits of Mas- 
sachusetts. To this requisition the governor made no reply, 
his objection being that he was in doubt whether the exigency 
had occurred which the constitution contemplated to justify 
the president in calling the militia into actual service. The 

would there be any combinations their action in the tented field.'" 
among the pretended disciples of Indep. Chronicle for May 14, 1812. 
Washington for obstructing the na- x The Congregational clergy of 
tional loan. On the contrary, we Massachusetts very generally depre- 
should be called upon to ' unfurl the cated the war, and a large number of 
American banner against France ; ' their sermons were printed and cir- 
we should be reminded of the intrepid culated in the community. Many 
deeds of Americans during the revo- of these are in the possession of the 
lution, and of all the ' pride, pomp, author, and a still larger number may 
and circumstance of glorious war.' be found in the Collection of Tracts 
We should be told that war opened a of the Mass. Hist. Soc, and of the 
vast field for the display of enterprise Am. Ant. Soc. Mr. Ingersoll, in his 
and genius, and afforded high-spirited Hist, of the War, i. 52 et seq., con- 
young men an opportunity of signal- demns the course of this class of our 
izing themselves; Our choice spirits citizens, and " the eastern pulpit ful- 
would all be called upon to spurn the ruinations against the war." 
dull pursuits of civil life, and ' use 



chap, state was not invaded, nor was it in immediate danger of 
^^^ invasion, whatever the future movements of the enemy might 
1812. be. 1 There was no intention on his part to resist the laws of 
the federal government, or oppose their enforcement within 
Constitutional bounds. It was his sincere desire to fulfil as 
well his duties as the chief magistrate of an independent com- 
monwealth as to obey the laws of the general government. 
His situation was peculiar, and in some respects novel. His 
motives were open to suspicion, should the rancor of party 
spirit see fit to impeach them ; and there might be a difference 
of opinion as to the propriety of his course. But he had no 
alternative save to follow his own convictions, guided by the 

1 Speech of Gov. Strong, of Aug. 
14, 1812, in Mass. Resolves; Niles's 
Reg. ii. 286, iii. 116; Bradford, iii. 
132, 133. Major General Henry 
Dearborn, the commander-in-chief of 
the northern army, and father of Gen- 
eral H. A. S. Dearborn, was distin- 
guished as an officer in the war of the 
revolution, in which' he served with 
credit to himself and his country. 
Soon after the peace, he moved into 
the District of Maine, where he was 
engaged for several years in agricul- 
tural pursuits. He was also appointed 
major general of the militia, and 
elected to represent the district of 
Kennebunk in the Congress of the 
United States. On the accession of 
Mr. Jefferson to the presidency, he 
was appointed secretary of war ; and 
during a long and arduous discharge 
of the important duties of his office, 
even his political enemies gave him 
credit for the economy, despatch, and 
punctuality which he introduced into 
the department. His papers, which 
are valuable, are in the possession of 
his grandson, Wm. L. Dearborn, 
Esq., and are in an excellent state of 
preservation. His son, General H. 
A. S. Dearborn, was distinguished for 
his devotion to the interests of science, 
and his advocacy of internal improve- 
ments. He was commissioner on the 
survey for a canal from Boston to the 

Hudson River, in 1825 ; was chosen 
first president of the Massachusetts 
Horticultural Society, in 1829 ; was 
one of the proprietors of Mount Au- 
burn, and laid out the grounds in 
1831; was chairman of the building 
committee of the Bunker Hill Monu- 
ment Association; wrote upon and 
advocated the Western Railroad, in 
1838; was an advocate of internal 
improvements in Maine, and visited 
that state in 1833 and 1850; was 
a commissioner for estabhshing the 
boundary line of Boston Harbor, in 
1839 ; and projected, designed, and 
laid out the grounds of the Forest 
Hill Cemetery, in Roxbury, in 1848. 
MS. notes, furnished by W. L. Dear- 
bom, Esq. See also Niles's Weekly 
Reg. ii. 177; Indep. Chronicle for 
May 7, 1812. Of the forty-one com- 
panies referred to in the text, five 
were for Passamaquoddy ; one for 
Machias ; three for Castine ; two 
for Damariscotta and Wiscasset ; 
one for Kennebunk ; five for Port- 
land; four for Marblehead, Salem, 
Cape Ann, and Newburyport ; twelve 
for Boston; and eight for Rhode 
Island. MS. Letter of Gen. Dear- 
born. Letters similar to that sent to 
Governor Strong were forwarded to 
Governors Plumer, of New Hamp- 
shire, Griswold, of Connecticut, and 
Jones, of Vermont. 



best light it was in his power to obtain. And that he endeav- chap. 
ored to obtain such light is evident from his applying for ^J^, 
advice to his Council, and to gentlemen who were eminent for 1812. 
their legal abilities. 1 

Upon the renewal of General Dearborn's call, the governor Jun. 26. 
again declined calling out the militia. Yet, under his author- 
ity as commander-in-chief, he issued a general order requiring July 3. 
them to be in preparation to march at the shortest notice to 
any place of danger, for the defence of the inhabitants, agreea- 
bly to the directions of their immediate officers. Orders were 
also is